Meet the manager: Helen Steers

Lead Manager of Pantheon International.

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If you weren’t a fund manager, what job would you do?
I would probably be an engineer, focused on sustainability and designing processes that save energy and increase efficiency. There are so many innovative and exciting technologies out there nowadays that can reduce waste, lower emissions and contribute to a lower carbon future. I read engineering at university, and my early career was as a control systems engineer, before becoming a venture capital and private equity investor. My children (two of whom also studied engineering) tease me about being in finance and not having a “real” job!

What was the proudest moment of your career?
I think it would have to be the corporate actions that we undertook recently with PIP, successfully completing a milestone reverse tender offer and announcing a revised capital allocation policy which we believe will serve shareholders well in the future.

What was the most difficult moment of your career and why?  
During the months that followed the onset of Covid-19, in Q2 2020, it was challenging to determine the potential impact of the pandemic on PIP’s portfolio of private companies, and what our response could or should be. Despite making the difficult decision to take a pre-emptive write-down, our portfolio was barely affected. Our private equity managers were quick to react and support their portfolio companies and we only had about 2% of NAV that was in companies operating in the travel, leisure, hospitality and physical retail sectors. We reversed the provision and in fact in that financial year (ending May 31 2021), PIP’s focus on resilient and defensive businesses really paid off, and led to strong performance. 

“I would encourage my 20-year-old self to have confidence of conviction and seize opportunities, even if they seem difficult or out of reach.”

Helen Steers, Lead Manager of Pantheon International

Helen Steers

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

I would encourage my 20-year-old self to have confidence of conviction and seize opportunities, even if they seem difficult or out of reach.

Away from the workplace, how do you spend your time?

Spending time with my family and friends is what makes me happiest, usually involving travel, sport and entertaining. I’m a keen skier and cyclist, and enjoy exploring new places on two wheels, skis or on foot with my husband and three (adult) children.

Tell us about the last book you read or the last podcast you listened to?

I usually have a few books on the go at once. At the moment I’m reading “The Power Law”, which is essentially a history of venture capital, “Stories of Your Life and Others”, a book of novellas by Ted Chiang and “On Java Road” by Lawrence Osborne, which is set in Hong Kong. The last concert I went to was during the recent London Jazz Festival at the Barbican - Sergio Mendes, who is a complete legend in Brazilian music, and still going strong after a six-decade career.

Where was the last place you went on holiday and why?

I have spent a long weekend in Vienna, which I had only visited on business before, and was dazzled by the city’s magnificent architecture, rich history and deep musical heritage, being the birthplace of Schubert and Strauss, and home to Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Mahler, Haydn and many others. Of course the amazing coffee and Sacher Torte were attractions as well!

In your personal life, what would you like to achieve in the next 12 months?

Health, happiness and sharing memorable times with my husband and children.