August 7, 2015
Managing Director, Business Innovation and Growth, Two Sigma Investments
Denis de Graeve Managing Director, Business Innovation and Growth, Two Sigma Investments Denis de Graeve joined Two Sigma Investments, a technology and innovation driven investment manager with $35 billion in assets under management, in 2015. At Two Sigma, Denis manages the Business Innovation and Growth (“BIG”) team, which focuses on the corporate development and strategy of Two Sigma at the intersection of finance and technology. The BIG team regroups expertise and capabilities in strategy, technology, finance, venture capital, and engineering with the objective of defining what the future looks like and how Two Sigma can play a part in improving it – through partnerships, investments, or incubation of new businesses.
Prior to that, Denis had been working for more than 10 years in the Financial Institutions Group of Lazard, where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions for a broad range of global financial institutions. His financial advisory experience in the U.S. includes TIAA-CREF’s acquisition of Nuveen, KKR’s acquisition of KKR Financial Holdings, the initial public offering of Apollo Global Management, the sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan, and the merger of Mellon Financial and The Bank of New York. He was also involved in a wide range of cross-border transactions, including KKR’s acquisition of KKR Private Equity Investors (Netherlands), the reorganization and sale of CIFG by the Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires and the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne (France), and the acquisition of Gerber by Nestlé from Novartis (Switzerland).
Denis is an Executive Advisor to BiiG, a French leader in digital strategy and customer flow optimization. He is also an Independent Director of MAIF Connect, an affiliate of MAIF (Mutuelle d’assurance des instituteurs de France) specialized in online home loan brokerage.
Denis holds a Titre d’ingénieur diplômé de l’Ecole Polytechnique and a Master of Science in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
What are you seeking to gain from the Young Leaders experience?
The French-American relationship is a very old and rich one. It has been referred to by historians of both nations in colorful terms: a “chassé-croisé” for C. Cogan, a “double inconstance” (i.e., a marivaudage!) for J. Vaïsse. For almost 30 years, the Foundation has worked to further enrich this relationship of shared ideals, notably through its Young Leaders program. I am very grateful to be a part of it, and find it an extraordinary opportunity to be able to compare my views and contrast my experiences with such a talented and diverse pool of professionals.
What motivates you to be a leader?
As an investment banker at Lazard, I have had the privilege of advising some of the largest and most complex global financial institutions on their strategic and financial initiatives. On a daily basis, I experience the drive of the senior executives of our clients and the sophistication of their boards of directors – during both good and very challenging times. I am inspired by the impact of their leadership on institutions that are systemically important to the global economy, operate in heavily regulated industries, and employ thousands of individuals.
What is the most difficult part of being a leader?
We are working in an environment where the span and depth of social networks as well as the volume of raw data available to us are getting infinitely more complex. It seems to me that a new challenge of being a leader has become the ability to leverage the opportunities offered by such global connectivity without denaturing the mission of our respective institutions or diluting our relationships to colleagues, customers and constituents.
What is an interesting fact about you that people might not know?
I am the proud father of two French-American (and Dutch) little girls: Alexandra (almost 5 years old) and Victoria (almost 18 months old).