Entrepreneurs Forever 2014 | Version française

Marie-Laure Mazaud

Chief investment officer for CDC infrastructure

She breathes life into major infrastructure projects.

A lot of Marie-Laure Mazaud's capital consists of great determination. She has always wanted to work in finance, and has been experimenting with all its different facets for 20 years: bank, insurance, support function, operations, investment; with, amongst her assets, company finance, international business and management. She didn't know that she would gain interest in challenges and major industrial projects. Was the Edhec School too marketing-oriented for her plans? She took a B.A. in management in Brighton (U.K.) and a Masters in Financial Engineering at EMLYON. Her boyfriend was leaving for Japan? No problem, she got herself a local contract for 18 months in Tokyo as an analyst for the Crédit Lyonnais bank. « In 1991, it was a complete leap of faith, in a country with strong cultural codes, aiming to conquer Asia. »

When she got back to France in 1993, she took out an option at Citibank as a chargée d'affaires, for three big industrial groups, Alcatel-Alstom, Thalès and Air Liquide. « We were real outsiders compared to the Franco- centric banks. I was introducing mandates internationally, from credit lines to long-term financing. »

In my different professional developments, I often found myself in situations which were highly complex or else where there was a vacancy, and so there was never really anyone to transmit anything to me. In those cases, you have to know how to rally your ability to listen, to observe, to persevere, and to negotiate all by yourself, in order to fit in, and build your vision. And that can become strength.

Then she took the road of credit insurance, for the Coface. She could have been perturbed when her boss resigned during her maternity leave. But she did a little speculation! « I felt there was a huge potential. A month after my baby was born I sent my strategic plan to General Management (without being asked!). I went back to work with a solution, a lot of nerve, and enthusiasm, and everyone signed on! »

The first two years were rough going, with the need to prove the value of a new team and a new range of services to the Ministry of Finance, and the customers, within the context of a highly competitive global market. « In projects whose members have different nationalities, and different agendas, you have to be seen to be open-minded, meticulous, and patient, to reach and implement balanced comprises... within the deadline. » Marie-Laure Mazaud travelled all over the world, to big capitals and developing countries, updating her address book and strengthening her positions through great successes. « I really managed to change the way we think about listening to the customer, and going international. After nine years, I was in my comfort zone. »

In 2004, she was arbitrating for one of her long-term clients, Alcatel. As Manager for Sales Finance and Treasury for the subsidiary in charge of international affairs, she was the one providing the financial support for sales: back-up for the sales staff, managing contracts, exchange rate risk, guarantees against risk exposure in different countries, and manning the hunt for cash. « My predecessor had left, the context was delicate, but I didn't back down, I worked in the field to ensure the best possible business support. »

She consolidated, and in 2008, evolved towards different functions, in structural financing and project management in the financial management section of the holding company, before being appointed Chief International Manager for Credit and Revenue Collection, with a team of 45 people. Amongst her partners: CDC Infrastructure, the strong arm of the French state for the financing of major projects.

And now it was time for Marie-Laure Mazaud to go back to serving public interest. She became the first woman member of the Directing Board, and, since 2013 has run the Transport and Environment sectors, representing 70% of the PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) or concession projects, such as the Millau Viaduct. Now she has become acquainted with her new functions of administrator for major infrastructure projects... her interest is appreciating!

EM Lyon: Master en Ingénierie financière 1991
Translation : Carole Bausor, ILTC
Date de parution : 12/09/14