At The Return Hub, we know the calibre of our talent pool and Ella Chalfon is a great example: someone with creativity, resilience and initiative – a typical Return Hub candidate. Ella took steps to identify emerging areas of finance that interested her so that she could take control of her career path.
London Business School graduate Ella Chalfon was a director at a prestigious global bank working in M&A when she went on maternity leave for the first time. During her leave, her role changed and on returning she took on a role in a new area of the business – Reputational Risk. The prospect of building a function from scratch and exploring a new field excited her and she thoroughly enjoyed her time there before going on maternity leave again. This coincided with the finalisation of the “design and build” stage of her role and she decided she would want to look for a new challenge upon her return a year later.
Upon her return from maternity leave, Ella started exploring lateral opportunities both within and outside her organisation, networking, attending events and interacting with people in various fields. She read extensively, focusing particularly on the future direction of the financial services’ sector and opportunities in other fast-growing sectors. She used the support of a career coach who provided her with advice and suggested a great analogy which remains with her:
“If you grew up in a desert, you won’t know if you’re good at building ships until you travel and see them being built”
Amongst the areas of interest she contemplated the digitalisation of finance but, “It didn’t touch my soul.” Sustainable finance did, though, and she sought a secondment role in sustainable finance strategy, which she loved. Since then “Sustainable and responsible finance and investment captivated my mind and I found myself doing lots of late night reading and having energy to go and talk to people in the field…the more I learnt, the stronger I felt it was “mine”. This helped her make the decision to pursue this area further and gave her the confidence to turn down other roles she was offered which did not meet her passion.
When Ella left her organisation she seized the opportunity to set up her own sustainable finance consultancy. Stepping out on her own, she was pushing herself out of her comfort zone, meeting new people from different industries, building partnerships with other consultants, pitching to potential clients and growing experience and knowledge every day. She was also sharing her knowledge and expertise in corporate finance through teaching cleantech and impact start-ups on fundamentals of corporate finance and on raising financing for growth.
It was also around this time that she came into contact with The Return Hub. Ella attended some TRH events and webinars which she found really helpful. She describes her experience of The Return Hub as being “refreshing”, helping her to “look in the mirror”.
“The Return Hub asked me thought-provoking questions exploring my motivations and skills, and made me really think of what I had to offer”
Nomura is one of The Return Hub’s member clients, having been engaged as part of their targeted, talent acquisition strategy. This relationship is sponsored by the Global Head of HR as well as senior leaders and recruiters at the firm.
The Return Hub suggested Nomura as an organisational fit for Ella in November 2019. She was put forward for consideration, giving her the opportunity to speak to some senior hiring managers. Working in partnership with The Return Hub, Hiring Managers at Nomura are used to assessing beyond immediate needs, looking at a candidate’s potential and experience. With strong commitments, sustainable finance being placed in a strategically important position at Nomura, and key initiatives being launched, they quickly identified Ella’s experience and her passion for sustainable finance and were keen to take the meetings further. She had a number of discussions over the course of three weeks, and following those, Nomura were able to shape a position specifically for Ella in the sustainable finance and ESG area.
This new role utilises all of Ella’s experience: investment banking, risk and, of course, her knowledge of sustainable finance. The two years of running her own business before joining Nomura equipped her with new skills, network and entrepreneurial resilience.
She has great visibility across the business and feels that it is a great platform for her career. Ella credits The Return Hub with helping her find the role, particularly appreciating the efficiency, speed of feedback and assistance with her contract. “Both Nomura and the Return Hub were amazing – extremely professional and efficient. I had an offer within four weeks of being asked if my CV can be shared with Nomura”.