I was looking for a graduate programme that would help me get a sense of the world outside academia. With a background in development research and consultancy, financial services weren’t my original career focus, but Baillie Gifford was the only company in the industry that truly appealed. I discovered the firm’s emphasis on future-thinking, cognitive diversity, and long-term investment approaches valuing qualitative thinking alongside quantitative methods. I realised this was an attractive opportunity to learn more about the world.
During my time on the Japan team I was primarily focused on small-cap company research. This means I’m looking at the growth potential of smaller companies. Often these were software or tech companies looking to disrupt the established workings of their respective industries. As an example, one the first few companies I researched is aiming to become the Facebook of the cosmetics world with its leading advertising and customer relationship management platform, allowing brands to interact with and manage a large pool of customers directly. Companies like these are defining a shift from product-based business models to experience-based ones.
One of the places I’ve been able to travel to was Japan, I meet with 35 different companies. I was given the freedom to choose the companies I wanted to visit and design the objectives and content of my meetings. Speaking to CEOs leading companies from various industries was a great experience to have so early on in my career. There are no short-cuts to gaining practical experience in interviewing management teams and for me, these first-hand opportunities were invaluable. It has given me real context for the work I do day-to-day in Edinburgh.
A key learning point has been that working in investments is not simply about a set of discrete outputs. The work is always in-progress, as the performance of any one stock or investment case is monitored across a long time horizon. I’ve admired the patience of investment managers at Baillie Gifford in continually reflecting upon and revising their previous insights and workings. In my experience I’ve also found the firm on the whole to be a conscientiously self-reflective place. As a business, asking other companies about their management and culture has highlighted the importance of asking the same questions of ourselves.
Remya Nair joined Baillie Gifford in 2018