Alina joined investment management firm CAMG LLP in 2018 as Deputy Chief Investment Officer, after more than 12 years working in project and infrastructure finance. Her current role is to provide oversight of all commercial agreements, negotiations and due diligence processes for CAMG’s investments. Alina sits on the CAMG investment committee and is the firm’s lead on responsible investment policy.
Alina began her career in 2003 as an audit trainee with chartered accountants RSM Robson Rhodes (which later became Grant Thornton UK LLP), where she gained her CIPFA qualifications in 2007.
In 2008, Alina moved onto ABROS-Navigant Consulting, where she specialised in financial and commercial advisory services as part of the infrastructure and asset advisory team. She worked with both public and private organisations, including advising on PFI/PPP projects involving the procurement of infrastructure under the UK government’s Building Schools for the Future programme, as well as on advising on housing and energy efficiency projects.
In 2012, Alina joined the start-up team of the newly-formed Green Investment Bank, focusing on the origination and execution of distributed energy projects. After enjoying six years at the bank, Alina decided to take on a fresh challenge at CAMG.
What led you to become a CIPFA member?
When I chose to do accountancy, I applied to a variety of companies and joined RSM Robson Rhodes, much of whose work – particularly in my location – was public sector focused. I took the CIPFA qualification, which I found really interesting because, as a US national, I had very limited knowledge of the way the government system and public finances sector operated in the UK. I thought this might be a really good way to get both a strong grounding in finance and accounting and also to go further and develop specialist knowledge of the public sector.
Generally, throughout my career, I’ve been attracted to roles where I’m using my skills and expertise to support the wider public good. Working with the public sector, you are benefitting the wider community, not just the organisation that you work for. So CIPFA was a way of incorporating that interest into my accountancy training. And my career developed from that.
What have been the highlights or biggest successes of your career to date?
I’ve been proud of all the roles I've taken on. I’m the type of person who likes to continue to learn and develop, and see things from new perspectives. Because of my CIPFA qualification, I have been lucky enough to be able to work on projects across sectors and therefore understand the key drivers and pressures for all the parties involved in any transaction, from public to private sector, and from investor, contractor and customer viewpoints. This experience has been the fundamental and a common strand in my career.
One of my highlights was being part of the Green Investment Bank, helping to shape the way green investments have developed in the UK and internationally. I was part of the start-up team, looking at how to build up a portfolio of investment opportunities for the bank.
And now at CAMG I’m using the same skill base to launch a fund that’s looking at transatlantic investments for mid-market infrastructure projects, which has the potential to positively impact local communities.
What have been the greatest challenges, both during your career and within the public finance sector as a whole?
One of the biggest , and most rewarding aspects, in my career has been bringing together people and organisations to successfully deliver infrastructure projects with the optimum outcomes, by accommodating and reconciling the kind of drivers and demands from both the public and private sector.
Having studied natural sciences and now working in infrastructure, I am naturally attracted to longer-term horizons, so from my perspective the wider challenge facing the sector is often the lack of long term planning. Priorities and policies appear to change too often so many organisations do not have the luxury or incentive to plan for the longer term. This lack of long-term vision often creates an uncoordinated patchwork of action and unintended consequences, leading to organisations firefighting – which is unproductive and inefficient. Long-term vision, with flexibility to adapt, needs to permeate throughout organisations to all employees, and not only be reserved for leaders. Ultimately, the long-term health of society, people and economies should be everyone’s focus – private and public alike.
What would you say to somebody thinking of becoming a CIPFA member?
Definitely do it, but don’t let it limit your horizons. I think there would be a greater benefit if people crossed over more often. And I’ve been able to differentiate myself in my chosen area of project finance by having a CIPFA qualification. CIPFA’s a great accountancy, finance and commercial training programme and, with that, you should be able to work in anything you find interesting.