Yann Robard’s 7 tips for young secondaries professionals

As we release our Young Guns of Secondaries Class of 2018 ranking, secondaries veteran Yann Robard shares his advice for young people eyeing a career in the industry.

Secondaries Investor published its third Young Guns of Secondaries ranking this week showcasing some of the most impressive professionals in the industry under 36.

Yann Robard, who founded Whitehorse Liquidity Partners after spending more than a decade at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, shares his advice for young professionals who may be eyeing a career in the industry.

Yann Robard

In June 2018, I was fortunate enough to spend some time at Oxford University as a guest speaker for one of their MBA classes. I was flattered at the opportunity to speak in front of such high calibre individuals. As the session wrapped up, one of the students asked me a particularly interesting question which was so simple yet so thoughtful.

What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started your career?

It provided me with a good opportunity for self-reflection, here is the result of it. By no means is it meant to be a path for each individual, but they are my learnings as I stand today in my career.

Focus on your passion

Life is short. Too short for you not to be doing something that inspires you and makes you passionate on a day-to-day basis. Success will be much more easily achieved if you wake up inspired by what you do. Don’t focus on the money, focus on the passion and money will be a side benefit to your success.

Lean into intellectual compensation

Remember that compensation comes in two forms; financial and intellectual. In making career choices, lean into intellectual compensation. You will be happier, the journey more fruitful and ultimately better positioned for success. The more inspired you are, the better you will do, the greater success you will achieve.

Take calculated risks

I have taken three in my career to date. In each one of those decisions, conventional wisdom would have clearly suggested to take the path most travelled. I did not and they have turned out to be the best decisions I have made in my career for my personally and professionally. Listen to your gut not the consensus, it is a powerful instrument.

Embrace change

Change is inevitable. It will happen throughout your career and the pace of change is only accelerating. One needs to learn to embrace change, not resist it. Change is uncomfortable, it pushes people out of their comfort zones. Yet change is opportunity if tackled with a positive mindset. See the good in change, leave the negative behind. You can choose the narrative that change brings about. Change will happen whether or not you agree to it, so best to embrace it. Innovate.

Focus on relationships

Relationships count. Increasingly so in this world. Take the time to invest in your network, create connections and stay relevant to them. Nurture these networks. Stay in touch over time. Technology is leading to interactions becoming less personal, one can increasingly differentiate themselves by making them personal again. It is so simple yet so powerful.

Be patient with your career

We all want the next promotion. We work hard to accelerate momentum in our careers.  Yet, it takes time to build the right level of experience. A career consists of three phases: player, player/coach, coach. To be a successful leader and a great coach, one needs to have spent time on the field to better understand patterns. But you need to have spent enough time on the field before you can be a good coach. I will forever be grateful to past mentors which delayed my promotions earlier in my careers despite me clearly thinking I was ready for it at the time.

Happiness is a mindset

You choose the narrative in your head. Two people with similar lives can have two very different perspectives. One can choose to be happy by looking at their situation with the glass half full, the other chooses to focus on what they don’t have allowing the negative to take over. It all happens in your mind. Choose to be positive, focus on what you have and stay grounded and grateful.

Yann Robard is founder and managing partner at Whitehorse Liquidity Partners, a Toronto-headquartered preferred equity specialist. Prior to Whitehorse he spent almost 14 years at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board where he established its secondaries and co-investment programme.