A business graduate’s bid to make banking greener

Lavern Vogel

Julia Ménayas adopted a well-trodden route out of organization school, turning out to be an affiliate in a enterprise capital organization. But in March 2020, just as she listened to about “something called Covid”, she stop to set up a banking services enterprise concentrating on sustainability. Launching Helios was an […]

Julia Ménayas adopted a well-trodden route out of organization school, turning out to be an affiliate in a enterprise capital organization. But in March 2020, just as she listened to about “something called Covid”, she stop to set up a banking services enterprise concentrating on sustainability.

Launching Helios was an formidable go by the 27-yr-aged Parisian, who only graduated from her masters in administration (MiM) at HEC Paris in 2018. For the very first four months, the organization comprised just Ménayas and her co-founder, Maeva Courtois, functioning from Courtois’ kitchen area, observed by the cat.

But Ménayas was pushed by the want to go after a vocation that would be about creating social benefit, alternatively than just creating a profit — an outlook that came in component from her time at organization school.

When she started out at HEC Paris, she felt like just one of the “lucky ones”, and the study course taught her to transform that into a sense of social duty.

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By means of her operate practical experience — which include at start off-ups as well as in enterprise capital and consulting — she was drawn to the technology sector. But tech did not meet up with her want to build social benefit. She describes the industry as “very weird”, and whilst there is major social duty as an investor — selecting which industries and organizations will prosper, what new positions will be developed and aiding to condition the broader financial way — “somehow we have been not owning it at all”, she states.

Sunny outlook: Helios invests in industries that do not add to the weather crisis

So Ménayas returned to what she was taught on her MiM. “Leaving a VC — with quite very good lifetime earnings — was tough,” she states. “But when it did not make sense in conditions of [social] duty, I remembered what I had been taught on the MiM and how we had to consider not about income but the benefit we could carry,” she states.

Helios, which supplies its services in partnership with German banking program enterprise Solaris, is someplace “between an NGO [non-governmental organisation] in conditions of aspiration and purpose” and a organization “because we have to be sustainable somehow”, states Ménayas.

Prospects fork out a cost to open an account and Helios pledges by no means to invest their deposits in industries that add to the weather crisis or damage biodiversity. “We do really the reverse,” Ménayas states. “We only immediate our funding in direction of industries similar to the ecological changeover.” Symbolically, the very first bank playing cards are built of cherrywood sourced from sustainable forests in Europe.

A Visa card made of cherrywood
Cherry on prime: The company’s very first bank playing cards are built from sustainable cherrywood

A different purpose of Helios is to increase recognition amid consumers about where banks invest their deposits. When men and women take into account world wide warming, Ménayas states, they tend to consider of the impact of the automotive or aviation industries, but several glance at which organizations banks fund working with customers’ money.

“The banking industry transforms people’s deposits into extensive-time period investments in the actual financial state and, by selecting to finance industries like coal-fired electrical power or gas extraction, [banks] actually have a whole lot of duty in regards to our future,” she argues.

Ménayas credits organization school with opening up alternatives and inspiring her to be bolder. Alongside accessibility to a network of start off-ups, VCs and business people, HEC Paris promoted a “learn to dare” ethos that she states she appreciated. “The school opens up your mind to constructing some thing and not fearing the unknown,” Ménayas states. “That was a very good beginning point to depart standard industry driving and start off some thing much more adventurous.”

Julia Ménayas © ©Magali Delporte

In truth, her information to prospective MiM learners — along with becoming curious and open to getting programs in a range of subjects further than finance — is to shell out a third of their time in the classroom and two-thirds chatting to classmates, lecturers and speakers.

Tapping into this network gave Ménayas the self esteem and state of mind to look for aid when she requires it — some thing that is proving very important as an entrepreneur. “Being exposed to quite distinctive lifetime tales was a very good lesson mainly because I felt it was Alright for me to arrive at out to any individual,” she states. “At Helios we have to construct some thing from scratch, so we have to obtain a whole lot of expertise, companions, traders and purchasers, and be equipped to arrive at out to any individual for support, information or methods.”

The MiM offered a lesson in much more each day competencies, this kind of as listening. There are loads of major egos at organization school, states Ménayas — some thing that was supplied shorter shrift at the military camp to which learners have been sent to understand about teamwork. “The troopers informed us, ‘You are going to understand how to shut up’,” she recalls.

Ménayas states she learnt to pay attention to some others in the group, as well as to leaders. “As a supervisor and co-founder now, I consider I typically pay attention. Starting up to pay attention just before actually major was a quite very good vocation lesson.”

The practical experience of teamwork that the MiM offered has also been a must have. “Today, our enterprise is all about constructing the most effective team, just one that is 100 for every cent aligned with our purpose but also proficient to supply tangible outcomes,” she states. “The group operate, which was quite powerful on the MiM, was quite very good instruction for that.”

Helios is off to a strong start off. The very first round of fundraising introduced in €1.5m and its three,500 buyers throughout France, Belgium and Luxembourg have so considerably deposited €8m in recent accounts, which price tag €6 for every month to open. But the organization is younger and there are issues in advance, this kind of as recruitment, item, acquisition and elevating recognition amid consumers about how banks use their money.

But Ménayas stays characteristically formidable: in five decades she would like Helios to hire 100-200 men and women and “be a great deal much more political than we are now”. Like the new banks that started out up all through the industry’s electronic revolution, Helios is on the “verge” of bringing a “sustainable revolution of banking”, Ménayas states, “proving that we can do items differently, that we can construct a clear and sustainable model and, with any luck ,, paving the way for the banking industry to shift much more radically and faster”.

CV

2020 Co-founder, Helios

2018-twenty Associate, Alven (enterprise capital organization)

2017-18 Consultant, Boston Consulting Group (six-month internship)

2017 Analyst, Knife Cash (enterprise capital fund — six-month internship)

2014-18 Masters in administration, HEC Paris (component of a double degree in corporate and public administration science at Sciences Po)

2016-seventeen Private equity analyst at Bpifrance (expenditure bank — six-month internship)

2015 Business enterprise-to-organization revenue at Jam (on the internet media enterprise — summer months internship)

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