- Programme: Project and Infrastructure Finance
- Nationality: Australian/British
- Job Post-programme: Project Manager GBM Minerals Engineering Consultants Ltd. Also Director of PEL Ltd
Sally works with GBM Minerals managing teams of engineers and sub consultants in project engineering. In 2011 she established Parker Engineering Ltd (PEL) to undertake infrastructure, water and mining projects for several clients. She has also worked on world stage infrastructure projects, including two years as Design Manager on the London 2012 Olympic Games.
I came to London Business School to gain an in-depth,
international perspective on project finance. I
also wanted to improve my financial knowledge and
gain skills that would benefit my career, my employer
and the work I do in the minerals processing and
infrastructure industries. Working on numerous
projects across many territories, it was important for
me to build my network on a global scale. I found this
programme to be more comprehensive and more
specific than those offered by alternative schools, and
crucially, it was open to people like myself who are
not strictly from a finance background.
As my work involves making engineering and financial
assessments for different countries, I needed to learn
how sovereign risk is approached across the world I
also wanted to understand how best to model the
economic and technical feasibility of a mineral deposit
and how structuring debt can improve economic
returns. The faculty were extremely knowledgeable,
approachable and engaging, each giving different
perspectives and each with their own style. The lead
professor came from a resource industry background
and another had experience in minerals and mining
companies, and had advised mining boards on
financial strategies. Their combined experience was
invaluable to me. It was fantastic to get so many
interpretations and views and to experience such a
positive, open and flexible learning environment.
An interactive environment
The case studies – in particular one relating to a
pipeline in Africa – were extremely relevant to me.
Based upon those real-life examples I came away
with a deeper understanding of how projects that
share cross-country borders can encounter project financing
difficulties and conflicting interests, and
how they can be resolved. Following one of the case
studies, when I delivered our group work to the class,
I realised how much I had absorbed in just five days.
It was an intense learning curve.
I also appreciated the balance between theory and
group work. My peers were an inspiration, coming
from all over the world and with professional
backgrounds very different to my own. The group
work and discussions were always lively! Hearing from
others about their project finance experiences (both
good and bad) revealed a lot about the various ways
in which project finance is implemented depending on
country, culture and levels of civil or political risk.
Applying the learning
Project finance delivery can present many unforeseen
challenges, and to succeed you need to think
creatively. I learned very quickly that my preconceived
views on how to deliver a finance model for a given
project can be disrupted by political issues, sovereign
risk, availability of finance, and acceptable levels of
debt. Since completing the programme I have been
more aware of how to calculate and evaluate risk and
contingency, and have a deeper knowledge of how
best to structure debt.
Although my corporate base is London, I am
currently working in Beijing for a year, adjusting to a
new environment and cultural setting. The
techniques and principles that I learned on the
programme have been a huge benefit to me. I now
make sure to consider financial variables beyond just
metal prices and I’ve applied this learning to projects
in South America, Asia and Africa with great success.