Wilfried Genest on joining the Johnian Society Committee
Wilfried Genest (2010) joined the Johnian Society Committee this month, along with Michael Gun-Why (2002), and each will serve a term of six years. Wilfried completed a BA in Natural Sciences and then a PhD in Neuroscience at St John’s, and here he introduces himself and shares what he’s been up to since graduation.
The Johnian Society was founded in 1923 with the mission to facilitate relationships between its members and the College.
How did your experience of St John’s change during the six years you studied here?
Each year was better than the previous one! To a large extent this is because Cambridge is a place steeped in tradition, and as one slowly gets to learn these traditions, they acquire more significance and meaning. Things that feel strange and intimidating at first, like wearing a gown or going to Formal Hall, eventually feel comfortable and reassuring: there is something really nice in feeling part of a long chain that stretches far back in history.
Moreover, spending six years in St John’s allowed me to get to know a lot of the staff and the Fellows. After a while, College felt like a second family.
You had a long connection with the LMBC while at St John’s. Have you maintained your relationship with the Club since leaving? Do you practice team sports now?
I have! In fact, I still live with three ex-LMBC rowers (and an ex-Selwyn rower). In 2018 and 2019, I came back to College for a few weekends in the Easter term to coach one of the Men’s boats until the May Bumps – though sadly this was not particularly successful. Clearly, I am more suited to being in the boat than on the bank…
Since leaving SJC, I haven’t found a new team sport that grips me the way rowing did. I do enjoy running from time to time though around Hyde Park and Regent’s Park.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life?
I am aware that I have been very lucky. I have not suffered from any health problems nor have most of my family and friends. The biggest difference has been working from home; we started a few weeks before the official lockdown in March 2020 to ‘test the IT system’ and never came back into the office! And I imagine that, for me, working from home will carry on until at least April 2021.
In many ways, I have grown very used to it though! The absence of any commute is a real bliss, and working from home has allowed me to spend a lot more time with my (Johnian!) girlfriend, which has been fantastic.
What do you hope to contribute to the alumni network through your involvement with the Johnian Society Committee?
I hope to play a part in mobilising the 2010s generation of Johnian alumni to get more involved with the alumni network.
If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Johnian Society Committee, please contact the Development Office, the staff of which can facilitate an introduction to the Chair, Mark Wells, and the Honorary Secretary, Zip Jilla.
Wilfried Genest studied at St John’s between 2010 and 2016, first completing his BA in Natural Sciences and then his PhD in Neuroscience, researching the neuronal processes underpinning risk attitudes. Throughout his time at St John’s, Wilfried was an active member of the Lady Margaret Boat Club (LMBC), rowing for the Men’s first boat in the May Bumps headship-winning crew of 2016. He also held a number of leadership positions in both LMBC and CUCBC (the committee regulating all College rowing and racing at Cambridge). Wilf now works for a large multi-strategy hedge fund, where he focuses on special situations and merger arbitrage mostly in the equity space. He is also a full-time volunteer for the Samaritans.