An interview with Nana Raphael - Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO London) Alumna 2005, Senior Vice President at investment bank and financial services company M&A Jefferies.
Tell us about Jefferies Ethnic Minority Society (JEMS)
JEMS is the employee resource group at Jefferies, which is focussed on promoting ethnic diversity in our recruitment, and ensure that once hired, that diverse talent is set up to succeed at the firm and, thirdly, we are focussed on increasing cultural awareness. The group is open to all employees in Jefferies Europe because we believe issue of under-representation of certain people groups is one that we should all rally together to address. We also believe that promoting ethnic diversity ultimately brings value to Jefferies and to our clients.
How do you attract diverse talent and foster racial and cultural inclusion?
We firstly have a diverse slate for our hiring and try to encourage a positive cycle for recruitment where current diverse employees share their experiences and encourage others to join the firm. We help to foster racial and cultural inclusion through several ways, not least through the various awareness and allyship initiatives that are driven out of our employee resource groups and global. Bringing about change in any organisation takes time and it can be frustrating to not see results as quickly as one might like in certain areas. But overall, the diversity and inclusion agenda progression at Jefferies has been very positive.
The programme sounded perfect for someone like me who had no background or knowledge about investment banking.
How did you first hear about the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity?
I heard about SEO through a friend in my Afro-Caribbean society at university. I was curious as the programme sounded perfect for someone like me who had no background or knowledge about investment banking.
Any memorable stories to share?
The picnic in the Regent’s Park in the summer of 2004 was fantastic. In those days Hason Sandhu, then executive director of SEO London, would organise these picnics in the park, inviting alumni and we’d hang out and network but in such a relaxed way. It felt like you were at an event with your family.
Building relationships across levels within the organisation help me identify mentors and sponsors along the way.
What are you up to now?
I am a Merger & Acquisition banker, focussed on the Power Utilities and Infrastructure space (PUI).
I started my career at Deutsche Bank as a consumer coverage banker and moved to Jefferies in 2010. At Jefferies, I’ve always been in the M&A team, initially as a sector-agnostic banker and then focussing focussed on PUI since 2019. I have always managed my career proactively, seeking out opportunities and making my goals clear to my senior colleagues. Networking has also been a very important aspect, building relationships across levels within the organisation helped me identify mentors and sponsors along the way.
What is your favourite part of the job?
Solving problems for clients on M&A transactions and getting to the finish line on a transaction.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic effected your business?
Positively, broadly speaking. A lot of funding has gone and is going towards sustainable businesses, with clear Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) characteristics, which a lot of businesses in the PUI space have. Our activity levels are currently at record highs.
I encourage the next generation to build strong networks and invest in their personal brands.
How has the M&A world changed since you started?
The biggest change has been technological, and the pandemic has added the new perspective of staying connected in a virtual world. Networking has remained a common thread as well, and people want to stay and feel connected with colleagues, clients, and advisers. I encourage the next generation to build strong networks and invest in their personal brands, since the two together is really what propels someone through their career.
How is a day in the life of Nana Raphael?
I spend a lot of time on calls and in meetings advising clients, pitching for new business, managing my team, and dealing with issues arising on transactions. I spend late afternoons to evenings catching up on paperwork, reviewing materials and commenting on the work produced by my team. It’s fast paced and never boring!
Where can you see yourself in 5 / 10 years?
On to Managing Director and beyond!