Home of the A-Types

Cicely Leemhuis

23 February 2022 • London

Brighter Perspective with Cicely Leemhuis

There's no doubt about it that they are some of the most dynamic and challenging markets to work in. I'm Cicely Lemus, I'm the general counsel and chief compliance officer, and I've been with Gemcorp for two years.

Really working at Gemcorp is about working with an amazing team and so that was why I came here. I had previously worked with Atanas and Felipe in my previous roles. So, at my previous firm, Atanas was the CEO and he left to start Gemcorp and it was immediately very successful and it was really great to see it growing and becoming the operation it is today.

Think he really saw a gap in the market, and he wanted to create something really nimble and that could be really effective in the markets that he was familiar with.
About two years ago, Atanas approached me to look at taking the general counsel role and the Chief Compliance Officer role. And I was absolutely delighted to join it.

The Home of A-Types

My career didn't start out in emerging markets. I was doing plain vanilla Western work. I was working through the financial crisis, and I fell into emerging markets basically by accident because a lot of the work that I was previously doing dried up.
I was given an opportunity to move away from emerging markets and back into the kind of more conventional western markets, but I was completely hooked. There's no doubt about it that they are some of the most dynamic and challenging markets to work in. So, when you're a real a-type personality, you really enjoy what they bring, which is incredible intellectual stimulation. A lot of excitement at the novelty of what you're dealing with.

Asking the Right Questions

For a lawyer working in emerging markets is very challenging because there's not a lot of certainty, and you will often get competing answers from different local councils. You really have to dig, dig, dig and dig. And you have to ask questions and more questions and more questions. And you have to develop a real relationship of trust with your advisors and with your clients and the people that you're dealing with.

Because you're working through problems that nobody has worked through before, there's a lot of times when we're doing transactions. It's the first time it's ever been done, so that is really challenging because you have to really think on your feet. You have to understand the dynamics of what you're doing, because ultimately for me, it's about ensuring that Gemcorp is going into any situation with eyes wide open because there's nothing worse than going into a situation and encountering a risk which you weren't aware of.

Expert Problem Solvers

I don't know of any asset manager that operates quite on the model that we do. Gemcorp is very good at finding solutions for problems that exist for our clients and we work really closely with them because ultimately the story starts with them. They need the capital, they want to deploy the capital, whether it be a given country or a given company or a particular project that's going on, and we work with them to solve their problems and a lot of those problems are quite practical in nature.

So Gemcorp is different from a typical asset manager because we have a lot of people who solve problems. And whether that be experts in logistics in moving things around in procuring goods you know most asset managers don't have that capability.

So, what we do is ensure that our investors capital that we deploy is effectively used because we're controlling that process. We don't just hand over the money we understand, and we control it because we have our own people doing a lot of the operations.

A Shift in Transparency

In the 15 years that I've been working solely in emerging markets, I have noticed a real shift in understanding from the end users of our capital.

They understand the questions that we are asking. They understand the level of due diligence. It's no longer just window dressing or take the box exercise.

We have to really dig deep to really understand who it is we're dealing with where our capital is going. There's a lot more transparency in investing in emerging markets than there was previously.

A Common Vision

One of the most important aspects of Gemcorp is also how the team operates together, everybody is pulling in the same direction. Some organisations will set up competing teams to kind of try to get the best out of people. That's not the Gemcorp way. The Gemcorp way is we are all working towards the same goal. The goal is to succeed in these markets and to bring really good returns to our investors. It is a very collegiate environment. Of course, it gets heated, people have their own views, but we work through them and we have very robust debates, but ultimately we're all moving together in a common vision and goal.

In our next edition of A Brighter Perspective, we meet Cicely Leemhuis, General Counsel at Gemcorp.

Cicely discusses the passion she has for the A-Types she works with at Gemcorp. Those that bring excitement, intellectual stimulation and ask all the right questions.

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