Tue 4 Apr 2017
News - Getting to know better: Valérie Warland
Getting to know better: Valérie Warland

Valérie has quite a diversified background which helps her get a more holistic view on things. She has always been interested by strategy and helicopter vision. She initially graduated from the Solvay Business School in Brussels in 1995. She started her career as consultant with the strategy consultancy firm Bain and Company. Following this consultancy experience, she had a wide-ranging career in the banking sector in the Dexia Group with on the ground experience in risk management, strategic planning and analysis, product development and marketing. Her last banking function was director of financial planning and analysis for Paypal Europe. She then moved to the alternative investment industry and joined, as director, Alter Domus, a leading provider of fund and corporate administrative services. It is in this function that she felt the need of independent directors in Luxembourg and it led her to redirect her career and start as Independent Director.

What are in your opinion, the key attributes for a Director?

  • Curious: willingness to learn and understand. Ask questions, acquire knowledge, train
  • Cautious: risk management is key, compliance is central
  • Constructive and open
  • Know what is important
  • Foster better governance
  • Make sure the relevant people are around the table

What do you think makes a great Board?

  • Good communication
  • Diversity (age, gender, background…)
  • Good preparation and good support for follow up

What is the best or worse business decision you have ever made, and why?

The best decision was to start this career of Independent Director. I like what I do. I learn a lot. I work a lot. I try to add value. I get positive feedback from my clients… but it might turn out to be the worst decision as the risks are becoming more and more important. Let’s reconvene in 10 years’ time around the same question!

What does the outlook of Luxembourg look like, 10 years from now?

This is a difficult question. I am a positive person, so I have a tendency to project a positive future. There is a lot of dynamism in the country and new ideas are developing every day. Still there are today two important elements which can have a tremendous negative impact on Luxembourg: Brexit and Trump.
The UK is a liberal country and has proven to be an agile country. It will find a way to attract more business over the channel. In the financial industry, this could be detrimental to Luxembourg. Secondly with the UK leaving the EU, Luxembourg is somehow losing an ally at EU negotiations level.
What concerns Donald Trump, he is in a position to change the current equilibrium at world level. He is in a position to refuse to continue the developments initiated at OECD level and accept what is in favor of the US and reject the rest. And Europe is sometimes very slow to adapt… He is in a position to jeopardize US investments in Europe and hence in Luxembourg. He is in a position to limit EU exports to the US and slow down the EU economy.
Both items are a clear illustration of the rise of isolationist or auto centric trends, which illustrate that countries or regions want more autonomy, … and Luxembourg as a small country needs the others to develop. Its internal market is not sufficient.
It is and will remain a challenge for the Luxembourg government to maintain stability which is one the country key attributes -and so important for investors- and at the same time remain sufficiently agile to remain attractive on global cost.

How can ILA contribute to the economy, better boards and society?

  • Provide relevant trainings to directors
  • Disseminate regulatory changes
  • Foster diversity
  • Provide guidance / best practice on governance
  • Provide a hotline/crisis cell for crisis situations