Sandra Lagumina - Argos Wityu

Sandra Lagumina

Senior Partner

FRANCE

Sandra Lagumina - Argos Wityu

Sandra Lagumina

Senior Partner

FRANCE

Can you introduce yourself in a few words? Your age, your family situation and the country you live in?

Sandra

My name is Sandra Lagumina, and I’m 55 years old. I have been married for 30 years, and I have two grown daughters, aged 23 and 21. I am both French and Italian, although I’ve lived most of my life in France.

Tell us about your career and how you joined Argos.

Sandra

I particularly like something François Truffaut once said: life has a lot more imagination than we do. That’s what comes to mind when I have to do talk about my career. I started as an administrative magistrate at the Conseil d’Etat. The four very happy years I spent there convinced me I had a taste for law and decision-making. After that, I was a legal adviser to Laurent Fabius when he was President of the National Assembly and then Minister of Finance. I then joined the legal department of the Ministry of Finance as an under-director of public, European and international law.

In 2005, I joined Gaz de France as legal director just before the company merged with Suez. This was one of my most memorable experiences. I continued to work for the new GDF Suez (Engie) group as general counsel, heading up a large, international and talented community of 400 lawyers. It was in 2013 that my career took an unexpected turn. I wanted to take on some operational responsibilities, and I had an opportunity to be named CEO of GRDF, the largest gas distribution network in Europe (200,000 km) with a wonderful corporate culture but also a big strategic challenge: how to build a future for an infrastructure that transports a form of energy destined to decline. At the time, the Paris Agreement was taking shape, and I was very involved in that project. My team and I decided to transform the company by turning it into a key player in energy transition. My successors have since continued to pursue these goals, and I look back on that experience with a great deal of satisfaction.

In my next assignment, as a member of Engie’s executive committee, I was in charge of the entire gas infrastructure. In 2017, I wanted to move into the field of investment while remaining focused on the environmental impact. So it was rather naturally that I joined Meridiam, a pioneer fund in sustainable infrastructure. I started out in charge of asset management. I needed to build a portfolio management strategy and put knowledge sharing to work with a focus on creating both financial and non-financial value. The group was experiencing rapid growth all this time, and it needed an impact-based mission to give it coherence and to prepare it for this growth. So we transformed Meridiam into one of the first sociétés à mission, a French legal status under which companies publicly commit to certain social and environmental goals. Meridiam is now a “B Corp” and has implemented a management system that measures impact at each investment and operational stage. This is all monitored by the Mission Committee that I chaired.

When Louis Godron presented Argos’s new strategy to me, I saw an opportunity to take the experience I had gained in management at Engie and in sustainable finance at Meridiam and apply it to the SME universe, which has always attracted me. This is how I joined Argos and its ambitious plans to turn companies into champions of ecological transition in their sector and to help them contribute to the great challenge of our generation: combating climate change.

Is this the path you thought you would take when you started your studies?

Sandra

Absolutely not! I wanted to be an opera singer, and I started university to please my parents. In the end, I continued down that path, but I have always maintained an unbridled love for singing and the opera.

The world of private equity has changed a lot in recent years. What is your definition of PE? How do you see it?

Sandra

I joined the private equity universe at a time when the green finance revolution was undeniably underway. For me, this is the principal trend.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Sandra

Without a doubt, accomplishing tasks that have meaning and doing it with people I think highly of. Over the last few years, another priority has emerged: the transfer of business ownership. I have been teaching regulation and other topics for over 25 years at Sciences Po. Not only do I enjoy it, but I learn a lot from contact with young people. For me it’s important to spend time passing on my experience and helping to develop talent, particularly among young women.

What encounter - or moment - has marked your journey at Argos?

Sandra

I’ve come to know many of my colleagues at Argos, but I think what I have most appreciated was my first meeting with the management of a company with which we were in discussion. I always find these discussions fascinating, because they help people understand each other and arrive at a common goal. It forces me not only to listen to others but also to use my experience to quickly develop a conviction. Strangely enough, it’s rather similar to meetings at the Conseil d’Etat!

To describe yourself further: It is said that we are the average of the people we meet. Who do you think they are and how do they influence you?

Sandra

I was brought up to always respect and value the people I meet, and I have had the opportunity to do so in very diverse cultural environments. I think that every time I meet a new person I have an opportunity to learn. My dialogue with them informs my thinking to a great extent. Then I forge my own opinion.

You interact daily with managers. Is there an entrepreneur you admire in the market?

Sandra

I’m a very demanding person. There have been some memorable encounters over the course of my career, but it’s not easy for me to admire people. On the other hand, I have enormous respect for those who create by innovating, those who start something, the way an artist does, those who move society forward in a positive way.
“I joined the private equity universe at a time when the green finance revolution was undeniably underway. For me, this is the principal trend. ”

How do you find balance in your life as a whole?

Sandra

I’ve always had several lives in one, but the most important is the time I spend with my family. My various functions have always been very time-consuming, but I didn’t miss any part of their childhood. That’s my main satisfaction. Now that they have grown up, I devote more time to my personal interests and to another area I discovered a few years ago: social entrepreneurship. I work with Libraries Without Borders and Cuisine Mode d’Emploi, a food-service training programme for unemployed people created by the renowned chef Thierry Marx.

Outside of your job, what are your passions or commitments?

Sandra

My personal interests drive me towards what is artistic and in particular the performing arts. I was president of the National Conservatory of Music and Dance, and during the Covid crisis I pursued this commitment by creating the “Tutti” endowment fund to help young singers kickstart their career. This year I have also taken a liking to the Opéra Comique’s Relax programme, which assigns a personal assistant to people with disabilities so that they can attend performances. With regard to the theatre, I have the privilege to support the Comédie Française by sitting on the executive committee of its foundation. 

I have great admiration for this 400-year-old institution and its company of actors that many management schools could turn to for inspiration. Lastly, I have chaired the Board of Directors of France Muséums for more than four years. France Muséums is a grouping of France’s principal museums that operate the Abu Dhabi Louvre. This exceptional venue has just celebrated its fifth anniversary and is the best example of international artistic cooperation around a marvellous structure designed by Jean Nouvel.

How do you see yourself in 10 years?

Sandra

I think my personal compass will direct me a little more towards artistic activities, and I also hope to become a grandmother!

Do you have a place to share with us that reflects you? A place that inspires you and contributes to your balance?

Sandra

There is our house in Brittany which is a haven of peace surrounded by nature. But more than a place, it’s music that comes to mind. I listen to a lot of opera, which – strange as it might seem – helps me focus. My refuge is the Palazzo in Simon Boccanegra or Rossini’s Seville.

In another life, you would be... ?

Sandra

Just as I am.
If you would like to have a direct discussion with me, feel free to

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