Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Monique Hansen
Monique Chandra Hansen leads the financial services practice at The Inzito Partnership/ AltoPartners UK. Based in the heart of her beloved London, Monique combines extensive experience in the financial services sector with a love for mathematics and leadership in a highly determined, multilingual package (she is fluent in Hindi and can converse in Danish). We talk about how she went from equity warrants trader to partner at the UK’s leading boutique executive search firm and lost her heart to a Cavapoo.
Is it fair to say that your love affair with London has shaped your career?
Growing up in Nottingham (yes, the home of Robin Hood), I knew from a very young age that I wanted to live in London. I had a few vague career plans, but they were, first and foremost, a means for me to live in London. My parents were in the textile industry, supplying the High Street, so the most obvious career path was to join a buying or merchandising team, which I did, but soon realised that I was too impatient to do my time and climb the corporate ladder. Fortunately, London offered a wealth of opportunities and, with them, a chance to pursue dreams I didn’t know I had! Studying in London was my escape and fulfilled my mission at the time. I obtained a BSc degree in Mathematics and Management Studies at King’s College, on The Strand – right in the heart of all the action.
What was your first job?
After a short stint in buying and merchandising, I joined a small hedge fund which was run like a family office; initially in research, then trading Japanese Warrants and Futures. It gave me a wonderful insight into financial products.
How did you get into Executive Search?
By accident! I knew I wanted a client-facing role, so was actively talking to some of the major banks for a sales role, but then along came the Russian crisis and the demise of the hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, and banks began downsizing. I was lucky enough to meet a great head hunter who suggested I join him and manage client relationships. The rest is history, as they say!
What do you love about this industry?
No two days are the same. I am constantly learning and thinking creatively about providing clients with the best solutions. I thrive on immersing myself in my clients’ challenges so I can provide them with the right human capital to fix their concerns and problems. Thankfully no two people are alike either, so it makes our job so much more interesting and personal. We’re not fully replaceable by AI; relationships matter in our business. But the advancement in tech does keep me on my toes!
Did you have a mentor? What was the best piece of advice they gave you?
My late father gave me my best advice: “follow your dreams and passions, work hard, and life’s journey will all fall into place, but never settle for second best.” I have been fortunate to meet and build lasting relationships with some very inspirational and supportive people on my journey. They have taught me always to set the bar high and be resilient. A good and patient husband also helps!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Life is a marathon. Every experience, whether expected or unexpected, will be the making of you. Try everything, and don’t give up until you’ve been through the four seasons.
How do you relax and unwind?
With great difficulty! I love switching off to a good box set with my husband and daughters, with a glass of wine at hand.
Red or white?
Depends on the weather, I’m very seasonal! A chilled dry white wine (no Chardonnay!) or a Provençal Rosé in the Spring / Summer months or a Sangiovese / Tempranillo in the dark days of Winter.
Is there any search assignment that really sticks out for you?
We once spent nearly two years on a search for a leading bulge bracket investment bank. It was a very complicated brief, drawing on many different businesses in a matrix organisation with many moving parts. We identified the perfect candidate, and he finally accepted the offer, and duly tended his resignation. However, during his gardening leave, the day before his start date, his former employer flew over in his private jet and refused to accept his resignation. He stayed. One year later, I moved him to a much bigger role at the same client. Thankfully it worked out in the end, but it was an emotional rollercoaster for all involved.
Tell us one thing about yourself that not many people know.
A chocolate Cavapoo (a cross between a Poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) cured me of a lifetime fear of dogs. During lockdown, in a weak moment, we added Choccy to our family – he’s adorable with a chocolate coat of hair and a white beard, and I no longer cross the road when I see a dog coming towards me – liberating!