We caught up with our Corporate Finance Analyst Antoine Daubigny to get an understanding for why on earth he wanted to come to Belfast, what he likes about his role, how he finds the working culture here at HNH and any advice he has for someone making the move to Northern Ireland.
Why did you choose Belfast over some of the larger cities in Europe and the UK?
Living in a big city is totally different. It’s always buzzing. You spend a lot of time at the office and you don’t really take time for you to enjoy life and do what you like. Here in Belfast, I get to work in Mergers & Acquisition, which is what I like to do, but I also get time for me to do what I like.
What do you like about your role?
Joining HNH here in Belfast gives me the opportunity to be fully involved in the deal-making process. It’s something I don’t think I’d be able to do working in a bigger city because I would have just been another analyst, but here I am not just Antoine the analyst, I am fully part of the team doing everything. I’ve only been here for two months but I’ve already been able to meet clients which is really interesting. That’s the most important thing for me – gaining experience.
Is it difficult being away from family and friends?
I have lived away from my family since I was 18 so we are used to it. It’s quite funny because living here in Belfast, I am closer to my family compared to when I was living in the south of France. When you’re in the south of France, it takes more time to get to the north of France than it does for you to take a plane from Belfast to Paris, then a one hour train to join my family.
What excited you about the opportunity to work with HNH?
I was interested in finding a place where I could be really involved in the deal-making process and I wanted to join a group that would trust me, give me interesting work and help me to learn. The more you are involved in the deal, the more you learn.
How did you end up at HNH Group?
HNH was one of the businesses that I found online. I contacted Craig Holmes and we started to talk. I came here to Belfast to take an interview and meet the team and then one thing led to another.
What’s the best aspect of the role?
You are always on the move. There is always a new mission and there’s always something new. Each mission is different. You can be working one day for a transport company and then another day for a healthcare company. You are always learning something new about another business. My job as an analyst is to understand the business we’re working on, find some targets to acquire a business and try to find some potential buyers when we are selling a business. I’m also doing a lot of modelling, using Excel and PowerPoint.
Did you say banter?
What I really enjoy here is that even though the directors are very busy every day between client meetings and getting their work done, they don’t put the pressure back on you. They are always smiling and always at you with some banter.
How do you cope with the pressure of the role?
What I really appreciate is that there’s no boundary between my directors and I. It’s open talking all the time. Even though they might be under pressure, they never make you feel under pressure.. They enjoy my work and they make me know it. It’s really enjoyable and really different from what I knew in Paris.
How would you describe your team?
What I really like about the team is that everyone is always up for banter. It’s professional but also kind of a family.
What do you do outside of work?
I’m really into sport. I joined a football club when I arrived in Belfast. So, I go to football training, I got to the gym a lot and I do a lot of running. I also started to paint recently because it’s something good to do when you come home to avoid sitting in front of the screen again. I wanted something else to do other than just watching TV or on my laptop, so I started painting and I really enjoy it.
What club have you joined and how are you guys going?
LOL. So, I joined the Malachians from the north of Belfast and I’d like to use the fifth (that is the Fifth Amendment – the right to refuse to comment).
What advice do you have for someone moving to Northern Ireland?
When you’re moving alone somewhere, it’s a big move. Especially when you’re not a student anymore. You have to be aware that you won’t be surrounded by people your age all the time. You have to know that it’s a difficult move but it’s also something really good because you’re learning a lot. You’re learning about a new culture, you’re learning about how people live and you have to be aware about how the administration works here. It took me almost two months to have my own bank account. If I had to, I would do it again because it’s a really good experience.