My Career Story | Slava Slavinskiy

September 6, 2023

As Head of Banking, EMEA, Slava Slavinskiy has just shy of three decades experience in financial services and a total deal volume of approaching US$250 billion, roughly split 50/50 between M&A and strategic financings. We spoke to him about his career journey, his day-to-day activities and what advice he has for people looking to enter the industry.

“I have always been curious about the outside world and various international matters, and international economics made the most sense,” says Slavinskiy when asked about how he began his journey into finance.

Following his last year at the Moscow State University, Slavinskiy went on to spend an additional two years studying at Paris IX Dauphine University before starting his first role as a Financial Analyst in Commodity and Trade Finance at Société Générale in Paris.

When asked what advice he’d give to his younger self, Slavinskiy gives three clear points, “define your interests, define your focus and be consistent.”

“Demonstrate your interest and your worthiness. Hard work is prerequisite and important, but smart work is even more important,” he continues. “So, coming up with ideas, thoughts, facts, analysis and being practical - that demonstrates interest and your seniors will appreciate it.”

After almost three years at Société Générale. Slavinskiy transitioned from finance into the M&A world with a move to Salomon Brothers, where he was fortunate enough to work on multiple large transactions early in his career also allowing him to use his language skills.

The first was Renault Truck’s joint venture with Volvo, which was one of the largest transactions in the sector at that time, and the other was Volkswagen taking a strategic stake in Scania.

“I was quite lucky to get on those two demanding transactions so early in my career,” says Slavinskiy. “These were two very intense and demanding deals that required ingenuity and creativity from the team, as well as covering multiple cultures and languages.” Slavinskiy continued working in the Industrials and Automotive sector at Deutsche Bank, where he had the first experience advising a Japanese client – Mitsubishi Motors.

“Demonstrate your interest and your worthiness. Hard work is important, but smart work is even more important.”

Slava Slavinskiy,
Head of Banking, EMEA

Later he worked as a Head of Energy in EMEA for Citigroup and advised on one the largest transactions in the sector in history (US$56bn acquisition of TNK-BP).

Slavinskiy is also mindful of his three year hands-on corporate experience as a CFO of Rosneft that followed starting 2013. He oversaw not only the integration and optimisation of the acquired assets, but also a very ambitious growth plan to create multiple international partnerships from energy exploration to cutting-edge technologies to reduce costs and carbon emissions in line with international best practices. “It was enriching to have an experienced international Board demanding to perfect, and to align strategies with the world energy transition outlook at the time,” he summarises.

Visits to global research centres and joint work with the top technology providers opened an endless array of improvements during his time as a CFO. “Using technologies such as the Internet of Things, 5G and nanotech to drastically reduce costs, heighten productivity and improve safety.

Seeing the big picture and trying to anticipate how the world is likely to evolve, translate it into business scenarios and balancing that with the right capital and operating expense commitments would be a good way of illustrating a simple trio when it comes to strategy;  determining the interest, then focus and execute.”

A day in the life at Mizuho

As Head of Banking, EMEA, Slavinskiy’s days involve a broad range of activities. However, when asked about his ideal day he is very clear that it would be “predominantly client-oriented activity.”

As a long-term relationship provider in multiple regions, Mizuho EMEA’s client base is both substantial and diverse, and so is the business for which Slavinskiy is responsible.

“We cover many different types of clients in many different countries,” he explains. “We keep learning and respect their cultures; know a lot about different industries, how they operate, as well as credit and investment cycles. Corporate perspective I acquired earlier also helps to make advice more relevant”.

Whilst Mizuho’s reputation as a global financing powerhouse with links to Japan and Asian capital is a key differentiator in the market, Slavinskiy argues that his team’s capabilities allow them to deliver a vast combination of solutions for different client types – from simple financing all the way to IPO’s.

“If we look at a client like Volkswagen, we are proud to have worked with them on multiple avenues all the way from securitisations to the IPO of Porsche,” he uses as just one example. “Our coverage team also worked on the inaugural bond for Porsche and more recently on many deals for Volkswagen itself, be it Capital Markets, Risk Management or Financing.

With the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economist saying the outlook is ‘gloomy’ for the world economy, Slavinskiy says the challenge here is “to keep coming up with products and solutions which work in a more resource and capital constrained world.”

“It’s very easy to implement solutions the world has seen, it’s much more difficult to find solutions for the future” he explains, “but here lies the challenge of working in an ever-developing world - one that surmounting is an extremely fulfilling part of the recent stages of my career,” he summarises.

“The world has changed enormously during this period. Clients have changed, their objectives have changed and the environment has changed,” says Slavinskiy.  To illustrate the point, he talks about his work assisting Ferrari with preparations for their IPO coinciding with the start of transformational changes in technology allowing cars to navigate and now to self-drive. Although, “a Ferrari or Porsche are probably more rewarding to drive with hands on the wheel”, he smiles.

Slavinskiy is confident that Mizuho can support clients in the current economic climate. “The opportunity during this period is that we are able to be even more reliable and more partner like. Our strategy and climate-minded advisory focus in EMEA allows us to have very top level conversations with clients about strategic alignment of interest.”

Advice for early careers at Mizuho

Now, with just shy of three decades experience a total deal volume approaching US$250 billion, Slavinskiy reflects on his career journey and offers advice for those looking to enter into financial services.

“One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is to ‘think again’. The first solution can be the right solution and I like to trust my instincts,” he explains. “15 years ago, I would probably try to give an immediate answer to most questions. Now, I try to always think again. Is there a different way of looking at it? I think that is important, especially in a changing world.”

He is very grateful to his colleagues and mentors. “I am extremely fortunate to have access to insights and wisdom of so many experienced, diverse and talented people at various levels in the organisations, including the ones I interacted with before”.

Having worked in French, Russian, American, German, and now a Japanese institution, Slavinskiy enjoys the diverse and multifaceted aspects of meeting different people, understanding different regions and being exposed internationally.

“Fundamentally, the values at each of these institutions are not that different, it’s the expression that can be different, and that can be difficult to understand at first,” explains Slavinskiy. “But once you understand the drivers, what is expected and what the perceptions are, it becomes much easier to operate.”

“Mizuho has enormous opportunities for international exposure; it’s multicultural, incredibly inclusive and accepting of people from different backgrounds and from different parts of the world. It’s a very interesting platform for development.”

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