Nadim El Khazen


Nadim El Khazen manages founder, co-investor and LP relationships across Europe and the US, and is particularly interested in areas relating to Water Tech, digitalization of food systems and innovative ingredients. Before joining PeakBridge, Nadim was a VP at Edmond de Rothschild Private Equity, spearheading its investment in the agri-food space, as well as a Corporate Finance Officer at commodities trader Trafigura, having started his career at JP Morgan’s London investment banking division. He holds a double degree in corporate and public management from Sciences Po and HEC Paris, and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
You have been working in large financial institutions in the world and you are now with a VC investing in FoodTech, what made you make such a change?
Impact, people, and convictions. One’s impact in a large company or financial institution is barely visible. We are a drop in an ocean of Orwellian interchangeable pigs doing all the same job and moving in the same direction. Seeing the impact of my work in a smaller structure and nascent asset class is way more rewarding. VC, PE and private markets are all about investing in people. I am so confident that the people I met at PeakBridge and at my previous company Edmond de Rothschild form a great tribe of empathic and genuine men and women that I am proud to be part of. This is also why they both form a great partnership. And finally, convictions. You cannot convince anyone to do anything with you if you are not deeply convinced in what you’re saying and doing. We might fail miserably in what we do. But nobody can take away the fact that we genuinely tried.
You are with a relatively new asset class and new industry, is this is the next thing?
There is no way around slowing the climate mess in which we are without decarbonising food chains. We tend to over focus on fossil energies and forget the negative impact of other industries. Institutional investors are finally realising that some technologies are good to have, and some others are urgent and necessary. Technologies addressing climate and health challenges are here to stay and there is no doubt about that. As an investor or capital allocator of any sorts, if not every single dollar on your balance sheet is contributing to decarbonise existing industries (food, energy, construction, transportation etc.), I really do not see how you will be surviving not 20 years down the line, but 5 years from now.
Being a climber, How does it feel to get to the peaks of the highest mountains? Any learning for business life?
People very often compare finance to mountain climbing which is a bit cliché. I gained a lot of weight in my 20s due to an unhealthy lifestyle and diet. I was working way too much and not exercising. When you are stuck on a glacier with your heart about to jump out of your chest and not able to move forward anymore, you realise the negative impact of food and alcohol on your body. Mountaineering made me realise that it was time to change. Climbing a peak gives a great sense of achievement but we always forget that the way down is even more challenging and dangerous. Most accidents happen on the way down. It simply makes you realise that every success is extremely fragile and everything you have built and worked for can vanish in a heartbeat. One slip and it is a fall. Mountaineering just keeps me grounded, I guess.