Interview: Pauline Chrystal – portfolio manager and pastry chef

Pauline Chrystal

Pauline Chrystal

In Australia, HFC’s Stefan Nilsson stumbled upon a portfolio manager who is also a pastry chef. Stefan couldn’t resist having a chat with Pauline Chrystal, portfolio manager at Kapstream Capital in Sydney, about her somewhat unusual parallel career in investment management and French pastry.


How did you in the middle of a successful career in finance and investments decide to become a pastry chef and launch your French pastry business by Pauline?

 I had worked in finance in France, Hong Kong and Singapore for close to nine years, going through the global financial crisis and very unstable markets, both financial and job markets, with rounds of cost-cutting and headcount reductions making headlines too often. At that time, my husband who is from Sydney wanted to relocate from Singapore to Australia and I saw it as a good opportunity to take a career break.


You have a CFA and an MSc from HEC School of Management, but also a certificate in patisserie from the Le Cordon Bleu Australia-Sydney. Are official qualifications as important in the pastry world as they are in the world of finance?

In any field, I believe experience and hard work always shine through. However, a qualification is a good way to gain credibility when you get started in a field.


Your firm By Pauline specialises in modern and delicate French pastries, breaking away from the traditional sponge and buttercream cakes. Are you on a mission to abolish sponge and buttercream cakes?

Not abolish but give another more modern option, which caters beautifully to current trends from dietary requirements to social media.


How creative are you when it comes to creating pastry? Do you stick to the French traditions or are you adding some Aussie flair to your offering?

 I go with new techniques but try to use local ingredients to the extent possible


From a time-perspective, how do you juggle the two different roles?

I’ve put By Pauline on hold for now. The business was positioned as an artisan handmade pastry catering business. In order to be able to pursue it, I needed to give it full attention, as well as pouring in a significant financial and time investment into hiring and training staff as well as a custom-fitted commercial kitchen. Therefore, I have scaled pastry down to a hobby and am fully focusing back on my PM role.


Are you as passionate about finance as you are about pastry?

Both are fulfilling from a different perspective. Finance definitely has less room for creativity but is very intellectually stimulating. Pastry involves hard labour but the end result is more personally rewarding than seeing one of the companies I cover release solid earnings!

(Aug 2019)