Getting to Know Persefoni: Meet Stefan Malchow
1. And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?" (Tell us your journey?)
Well... let’s start at the beginning. I’m German and grew up in a city called Leverkusen which is best known for its football club and pharmaceutical giant Bayer. With this comes an outstanding offering of sports activities, so I spent time in a gymnastics club (I can still walk in a handstand), playing basketball (I was indeed closer to the NBA than the German Bundesliga), and later tennis. What fascinated me the most though were any kind of adventurous outdoor activities: be it building huts in the nearby forests with friends, camping in our garden, skiing, windsurfing, sailing, etc. Things got more serious after we moved to Stuttgart and one day my brother and I approached our parents with the idea that we wanted to join a gliding club. For the next two years we spent every weekend on an airfield and I obtained my glider license aged 16.
The stock market has always filled me with curiosity so I started studying business economics and later specialized in finance. I spent time studying in Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, and Ireland which is where I started my first job at Citi. As a corporate banker I worked with multinational clients, first in Austria and later the UK. Most importantly I learned to always put the customer first while delivering highly bespoke solutions (at Persefoni this is our Operating Principle No 1 - start with the customer and work backwards). While working in a skyscraper had been a childhood dream, after about 5 years I couldn't resist the opportunity to join a fast growing UK challenger bank located in the heart of London’s buzzing Soho.
If there was one thing I would have added to the mix it was real long term purpose - I started asking myself: What is my own mission statement? Where do I see myself over the next 5-10 years? As I started digging into climate and learned how it is about to become part of mainstream capitalism and heavily impacting business strategies, I saw a unique opportunity to combine my passion for nature, business acumen and real purpose.
2. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. (What do you do at Persefoni?)
I am a senior sales director focusing on banking. That is enabling banks to successfully transition their own operations and supporting their clients to transition. With over 40% of global banking assets committed under the Net Zero Banking Alliance, it is truly fascinating to see how quickly banks are reacting. These commitments have severe business implications for banks and affect almost every function. Consequently, I get to work with many of the teams I used to interact with very closely while still in banking myself: For example every new loan needs an approval from Credit Risk - today credit decisions need to factor in transition risks especially for longer term loans. Relationship Managers need to build up trust with their customers to secure new business - today bankers are being asked how they can help enable their clients’ transitions through advice and financing. Or Portfolio Management teams that today need to establish new models to factor in the impact of carbon on their sector wise net zero targets.
3. And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" (What are your hopes for your time at Persefoni?)
Yes, banks are reacting quickly but is it quick enough? Is it determined enough? Will they/their clients reach their targets? Those are the questions that many of us still have. The conversations I have every day make me feel very positive that they will! It is still early days and commitments, strategies and plans need to convert into day to day business practices. Standards and best practices will keep evolving and I am excited to be part of this journey, to stay extremely close to the pulse of the market, to learn from our customers that help shape our product development and at the same time share thought leadership. My personal ambition is to become an expert at the intersection of banking and climate.
4. And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?" (Why is Persefoni a great home for you?)
When joining Persefoni I didn’t know much about carbon accounting. The beauty is - you don’t have to! Persefoni has such deep expertise in house so the team I work with is really making it simple getting up to speed. A small hint: This is exactly what we aim to achieve here at Persefoni. We set out to build a scalable solution that makes carbon accounting accessible to everyone so you don’t need to be a subject matter expert to kick start your decarbonization journey. This is a bold ambition and I love being part of a company with such big goals!
5. And you may find yourself in another part of the world... (Tell us about your life/hobbies away from work?)
From a slightly idealistic standpoint I like to believe that life/hobbies/work don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Truth is.. when working for a company in hyper growth mode, with teams and clients across the globe and doing all of that from my new standing desk in my London bed room - life OUTSIDE of work is important. And I love finding myself in other parts of the world.. or other parts of London. On weekends, my partner Melanie and I love cycling around London to discover new parts of the city, tasting different wines to stinky cheeses and finding new bites in London’s many food markets. We’re just back from a trip to Norway where we hiked on Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in continental Europe (the ice is up to 600 meters thick!!) - sadly though the arm of the glacier I stand on here has set a target to reach zero in 20 years with an interim target to break into three parts in 10 years.
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“Once in a Lifetime" is a series of articles designed to help our customers and partners learn more about Persefoni's truly passionate team. We're not just building award-winning software ... together, we're helping to decarbonize our planet.