My Morning Routine: Hany Assaad, co-founder and chief portfolio risk officer of Avanz Capital Management
Hany Assaad, Managing Director, Avanz Capital Egypt: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Hany Assaad (LinkedIn), co-founder and chief portfolio risk officer of Avanz Capital Management, and managing director of Avanz Capital Egypt.
My name is Hany Assaad, and I’m co-founder & chief portfolio risk officer of Avanz Capital Management, and the managing director of Avanz Capital Egypt, an Egyptian asset management company and a subsidiary of Avanz Capital, established to manage Egypt's fund of funds and other specialist private capital funds in Egypt.
Before co-founding my company, I was the chief investment officer of the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Private Equity and Investment Funds. I oversaw IFC’s funds business for new investments and portfolio in the Middle East and North Africa, East Africa, South Asia, Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and Central Asia. I was responsible for selecting IFC’s investment criteria and screening its transaction pipelines, overseeing the due diligence teams, negotiating investment terms, and presenting investment recommendations to IFC’s board of directors.
Egypt lags behind its peers in terms of private capital investments, and our goal at Avanz Capital Egypt is to increase those investments. Avanz Capital Egypt recently established Avanz Manara for Private Equity, an investment holding company established under the oversight of the FRA. Avanz Manara aims to support the growth of SMEs in Egypt and is designed to help Egyptian banks meet the Central Bank of Egypt’s requirements for providing financing to Egyptian SMEs. Bringing in local institutional investors is paramount and will ultimately attract foreign investors as well. We are also working in partnership with fund managers and companies in Egypt to work toward meeting Sustainable Development Goals through our investment activities.
My morning routine is very important to me: I usually wake up at 7:30am and use the first hour of my day to exercise, and figure out my program for the rest of the day. Before I get to work at 8:30am — usually during my commute — I read Enterprise and The Economist to catch up on the news. Enterprise, for me, is the most important source when it comes to local news. Also, since our firm is global and operates in different time zones, I always have a reservoir of emails and messages from my colleagues in Asia, so I have to catch up on that as well in the morning.
I focus on three things during any given work day: I’m always in meetings, whether physical meetings or virtual ones. I regularly talk to institutional investors to get them to invest in the company. Secondly, I meet with fund managers and focus on what we call the “due diligence of funds.” This part of my job includes a focus on reviewing the funds they are going to be investing in, thoroughly studying everything related to that fund, and helping them set up the funds from a management perspective. I dedicate the third part of my day to the Fund Manager Development Program, a capacity building program we are developing in partnership with a number of Egyptian institutions, which aims to help fund managers achieve best practices in fund management. The primary goal of the program is to educate and empower institutional investors and fund managers, because we believe this will ultimately help Egypt become an even more attractive destination for investors. We had the program’s first three-day masterclass in February at The St. Regis Hotel in Cairo. The program was organized by EPEA and AVCA, and our sponsors included the National Bank of Egypt, Misr Ins. Company, among others.
To stay focused and organized, I constantly write down notes. This enables me to track my progress with regard to my to-do list. I find this approach very practical.
To relax, and switch off from work, I spend time with my friends. I also love to go sailing. Sailing is a personal passion of mine. Because I haven’t been getting a lot of downtime recently, I don’t get to sail as much as I’d like to. I usually go sailing on Lake Ontario in the summer.
One thing that I do everyday, aside from attending lots of meetings, is constantly researching the history of ancient Egypt. I was trained as an Egyptologist, and this is kind of my secret passion. I’m fascinated by their culture. Ancient Egyptians created an extremely inclusive society and I’m always blown away by how they managed to create one, united nation. They created a unified language and national identity to bring all Egyptians together to manage the volatile Nile River, increase the amount of arable land, and thereby increase the country’s collective wealth. Another enthralling thing about ancient Egypt is the fact that the mathematics they used is similar to the mathematics used by modern computers. I believe we can learn a great deal about today’s world by studying our ancestors' way of life.
The last great thing I read was What We Owe Each Other. The book’s author, Minouche Shafik, is a friend of mine. Minouche is an Egyptian policy expert who had a stellar professional career. (Editor’s note: We sat down with Dame Minouche back in 2019 to discuss fundamental concepts that impact societal and economic growth.) She provides pragmatic solutions to the world’s current problems. It’s a fascinating book that offers a better social contract and explains how we can build a better, more inclusive world together. I also loved reading The Rosetta Stone: The Story of the Decoding of Hieroglyphics. The book brilliantly delves into the complexities of deciphering ancient Egyptian texts.