Sophie Durey ('11): my dream is to make Twin Peaks Family the game changer in the wealth management industry
Sophie Durey graduated from the Paris School of International Affairs in 2011. She is co-founder of Twin Peaks Family, where she focuses on impact investing. In this interview she discusses her career trajectory and the world of Venture Capital.
What is your background at Sciences Po?
My maternal grandfather, my uncle and my father went to Sciences Po. So needless to say, it was a given that I would end up at Sciences Po at some point. I thought I would become a doctor until my last year of high school. And then everything changed. After Prep School, I started directly in Year 2 of the bachelor’s program in Paris. In third year, I studied at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. I then took a Gap Year, working for a nonprofit called World Vision in Paris between my Bachelor and my Master’s degree.
Then I chose to do my master’s degree at PSIA, and selected their specialization in Humanitarian Crisis Management. At the time, I wanted to become a Field Mission Manager at the Red Cross. But during my fourth year, I took a few elective classes in Corporate Finance and ended up working at IGNIA, an impact investing Fund based in Mexico, for my internship in fifth year. After getting my diploma in 2011, I was recruited by an Impact Venture Capital firm in Geneva, Switzerland, called Quadia.
Why did you choose to work in the United States?
I’ve long been fascinated by the United States, and used to travel there often. In 2017, after a road trip on the Coast from DC to Miami, something switched, and I realized that I really wanted to live in the United States for a while. I came back to Switzerland where I was living at the time, put my name in the Green Card Lottery, and got selected!
I chose to live in San Francisco because that’s where everything happens: startups, VCs, innovation, trends… the best emerges from here. I wanted to learn from the most disruptive people, and experience life and work in Silicon Valley. It’s worth noting that I did not plan on setting up my own company when I moved here, but I don’t regret that choice. In San Francisco, it just makes sense to be an entrepreneur when you have a great idea. I have been here for more than a year now, and not planning on moving back to Europe yet.
Describe your work environment:
My work environment is exactly what you could think of when you think of a startup environment. We are a small team, and we do everything ourselves. Coming from the VC world, I thought I knew everything about early stage ventures, how to manage them, make them grow, turn them into scalable businesses. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Being an entrepreneur gives you a completely different perspective on things. With my co-founders, we hustle every day. Some days are harder than others, but we are determined and convinced by the validity of our mission. In San Francisco, work equals sacrifices and building a company requires you to be available and committed 7 days a week, 24 hours per day. It is tough, intense, challenging, but definitely worth it. I wouldn’t do anything else.
What do you do at work? What are your activities, missions and objectives?
I am one of the co-founders of Twin Peaks Family, and the Chief Impact Officer. We are reinventing what a Multi-family office is, and our goal is to redefine wealth.
I am the go-to person for all things impact. Twin Peaks Family still being at its inception, I am also involved in operations, communication, strategy, HR, partnerships… anything that will help us reach our objectives, I am part of or at least contribute to the best of my abilities. However, my main mission is to lead our Impact Factory. I focus on providing the best services to our Family Members (our clients) and helping them develop sound and evidence-based social and environmental impact strategies. It can be anything from impact investing strategies, philanthropy life plans, impact evaluation for their ventures and/or investment vehicles, or just finding innovative ways to turn their personal values into scalable impact products and projects. Our approach is customized to each Family Member, and we pride ourselves on being extremely creative and caring in everything that we do.
What do you like the most?
I enjoy working with my co-founders, picking their brains, learning from them. They are both super knowledgeable in their fields and great visionaries. They always strive to help me be the best at what I do, and I really appreciate it. I try to do the same whenever possible. Our very innovative and unique approach is also something I really enjoy: We created the company we thought was missing, and we built it to our image. We care, and it shows.
On a daily basis, I am really inspired by our Family Members, and Extended Family (our partners and friends) and their willingness to contribute to making the world a better place for all. It is really inspiring.
More generally, I love the “everything is possible” mentality in the United States. As long as you put your heart into it (and your hard work), I do believe anything is possible here.
What are the most challenging aspects of your work?
So far, my main challenges have been to find a better work-life balance, create deeper connections with Americans and develop self-confidence. In San Francisco, if you stop for a day, you’re already missing the train. People move fast here, and if you want to be part of it, you have to stay alert and work your ass off. Americans know how to sell their skills, and sometimes their self-confidence is off the charts. We don’t learn to sell ourselves in Europe. We learn to sell our achievements. Here, I have been taught to sell my vision, on top of my expertise. It is not always easy to always feel credible.
In parallel, there are very few local San Franciscans left in the city. The city is a hub for people from all over the country—and the world—to come and live the American Dream. It is easy to find your own community—The French/ foreign connection is strong here—but it can often be difficult to make long term American friends. I am still trying to figure the reason why.
How does this experience fit into your career trajectory?
This experience is definitely part of a long term professional plan. Although I have to say, since I have moved here, I live in the now. “Go with the flow” was one of the first pieces of advice I got when I moved to San Francisco.
My dream is to make Twin Peaks Family the game changer in the wealth management industry.
On a personal level, I am already planning to set up my own Foundation in France as I am passionate about preserving our heritage. I already invested some money and contributed to save a castle (La Mothe Chandeniers) and a Monastery I adore in Luberon (Abbaye de Senanque). My goal is to fit this personal project into what I am building here in the United States.
A message to current Sciences Po students and Young Graduates?
First message: Travel, travel, travel. Travelling is key to become the best version of yourself. When I look back now, I think most of my best qualities (at work and personally) come from the fact that I have been lucky enough to travel to and live in different countries, experimenting different cultures and ways of life. I am more open and curious, and I can adapt to any situation so easily.
Second message: Talk to Sciences Po alumni, and learn from them. One thing that really helped me when I was at Sciences Po, was to reach out to alumni who were working in industries and/or companies I was curious about. I talked to quite a few of them, learning from their experiences, asking a lot of questions. They were really straight forward about their jobs and told me frankly the good and the bad. It helped me in my decision-making process, and I appreciated their unique transparent, authentic and selfless point of view.
Lastly, enjoy Sciences Po. It is such an intense experience, but believe in the process, because you’ll see that, even years after leaving Sciences Po, you will use the skills you were taught there.