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Ana Luisa Martins

Summer Associate 2021

I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I graduated as an economist and began my career working at the World Bank Group. I was responsible for supporting governments in Brazil to structure infrastructure projects such as toll road concessions, or public lighting and school PPPs. I worked with a range of different players (law firms, engineers, financiers, regulatory agencies, and government officials) to make sure critical services were developed and efficiently delivered to the population leveraging private resources and expertise and within public sector’s constraints and best interests. What I learned as a “Government sell side advisor” was that a key challenge to unlocking the country’s infrastructure potential was attracting more capital and expertise from solid players – and that came with structuring international benchmark projects to de-risk these markets and transactions. Capital is catalyst for development, but it needs to be deployed right.

It was with that in mind that I decided to pursue an MBA and spent the last two years at the University of Chicago Booth. There, I had a chance to learn from top economics and finance professors and become much more comfortable in my ability to effectively evaluate businesses, returns, understand across borders deals and assess their development impact. As a student, I interned at two impact investing funds, evaluating early-stage opportunities that aimed to tackle social challenges while generating financial returns. Throughout these experiences, it became clear that: (1) there is a huge gap of infrastructure in emerging markets such as Brazil – and these represent sound investment opportunities, as long as there are good transactions in place; (2) economic development depends on such basic services delivery; (3) when talking about structural gaps, coordinating efforts make sense to deliver solutions, hence leading players with the capacity to invest in meaningful and/or sizable projects effect more sustainable change than multiple small business in critical sectors.

Actis mission fit all that I believed. As a leading investor in growth and emerging markets I could be at the forefront of relevant deployment in needed transactions following a sustainable approach, with the additionality of working with a smart and committed team from whom I could learn a lot from and that, like me, seemed enthusiastic about the investments being made.

So I applied for a role at the Energy & Infrastructure team in São Paulo, Brazil and, from my application, had a great process. The recruitment process was extremely organized and fairly communicated, with HR always providing me with guidelines on next steps and timing over the different stages of the process. On the other hand, the way it was structured – with a range of conversations, interviews and case studies – was important for me to know more about the organization at a global level but also have a better sense of what is the work I would be conducting daily as an Associate.

Despite the non-routine nature of the job (no week should be like another!), I found it also surprising how the program was developed in a way that I could experience diverse work streams. Ten weeks fly. Ten weeks when you are moving back to your country after 2 years and still facing a virtual work immersion fly even more. But even at unusual circumstances I was able to have a very exciting and comprehensive time. On my day one I already had a roadmap for different projects I would be involved in throughout the summer, including a very live exit deal, an exciting acquisition opportunity, and a research project for a new sector I could help Actis evaluate to potentially invest in. Beyond my activities with the Energy Infrastructure Latam team, I had a busy agenda with orientation, training sessions, networking opportunities with people from the firm around the globe, and a very cool side project with Actis Acts, an Actis program that aims to support charitable activities within portfolio company – providing grants to those where impact is measurable and attainable.

Because of my background, I had an idea of the types of deals I would be faced with as an Energy Infrastructure investor, but my Summer was what gave me the confidence to pursue this career path full time: short as it was, by the end of my internship I felt as if I had a real life perception of what would my day look like, the kind of opportunities I would be able to pursue and how involved I could be in them, and the impressive team I would be able to experience those with and learn from. I was also able to know the firm better, the advantages – and challenges – of a global organization, the motivations of my colleagues, and have a glimpse of how a life as an Actis employee would be. I am excited for the next period as an Associate and the new experiences with the São Paulo – and Latin American – team.

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Because of my background, I had an idea of the types of deals I would be faced with as an Energy Infrastructure investor, but my Summer was what gave me the confidence to pursue this career path full time…