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Valence Media CFO shares the key to a successful career in Finance with IE Business School students

Former CFO of the Walt Disney Company spoke to students about the importance of soft skills to succeed in the finance world.

Valence Media CFO Ignace Lahoud joined the ranks of the Titans of Finance, speaking to Master in Finance students about his 26-year career in the world of finance and sharing tips ranging from the importance of lifelong learning to designing your life and the modern global mindset.

Lahoud, formerly CFO of Walt Disney Company Consumer Products and Interactive Media, surprised the audience with a wide-ranging talk that focused more on human experience and proactive growth than on calculations and theory, and trumpeting the value of mastering soft skills, which he called the key to a successful career in finance.

“There are other elements besides technical skills that will define whether you evolve in finance or not.”

“There are other elements besides technical skills that will define whether you evolve in finance or not,” he said. “If you want to succeed in finance, collaboration, trust and empathy become imperative to your success. Sometimes we tend to underestimate the social part of the equation, but nobody wants to work with a selfish person.”

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The Spanish – Lebanese CFO discussed the implications of what he called a global mindset, central to understanding the patterns that drive growth in a global scale and help build strong relations with stakeholders.

“We need to acknowledge the combination of openness and diversity in today’s world. Understanding the patterns of behaviors, our similarities and differences is what truly develops a global mindset,” he said. “Corporations that have this mindset and exploit it to their advantage have the key to success.”

According to Lahoud, life is about three pillars: learning, acting and becoming. He encouraged students to experience life as a continual opportunity to learn and to stimulate curiosity and break away from biases.

“Learn to understand what moves people, travel a lot and expose yourself to different cultures and ways of living. Don’t be afraid of new experiences, they will take you far,” he affirmed. “Empathy is a universal value, use it to your advantage.”

Lahoud closed the session by encouraging students to always pursue positions that challenge them, never settling for a job with no growth opportunity.

“Hold on to those opportunities that scare you and learn how to master them. There is no magic trick, only hard work and being proactive in creating the life you want,” he said.

The Titans of Finance is part of the Master in Finance and Master in Advanced Finance programs and hosts top-level professionals from the finance industry on the most relevant issues in finance today. Recent topics include cross-border M&A transactions; current trends in the wealth management industry; why traditional measures of equity valuation are inappropriate and current trends in investment management, to name a few.