Imagine the future. Complete an in-depth research project next summer.
At Baillie Gifford we invest on behalf of charities and pension funds over the long-term. We don’t believe in furiously buying and selling stocks. Instead, our investment teams imagine the future by trying to understand the possibilities that arise from innovation and the consequences of regional and global events.
Our people are curious about the world and have the vision to see things differently. For us, the way they think is more important than the subject they’ve studied. That’s why we’re just as likely to hire a musician or historian as we are a mathematician or engineer.
We’re looking for people who are curious about the world around them. People who combine intellect, insights and a fresh perspective. If that sounds like you, then you could win £5,000 to deliver a research project next summer. All you have to do is complete our quiz and answer the following question, in no more than 300 words.
The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, once said that “change is the only constant in life”. It is happening all around us: industries, societies, environments – the list goes on. Pick an area where you see rapid change and tell us why you’re optimistic about the future.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, tell us how you would explore your arguments further. Be original, creative and thought provoking. Address an area that is specific enough to draw conclusions.
If chosen, you will complete four weeks of research during June and July 2021. This will be followed by two weeks in our Edinburgh head office at the beginning of August (either virtually or with paid accommodation in the city), where you’ll write up and present your findings, as well as learn more about our approach to investment management.
You need to be able to join the dots of seemingly unrelated topics to see where innovation and opportunity could lie. Your answer doesn’t need to be an investment opportunity or about companies or economics. We’re looking for truly original ideas and angles that people haven’t explored before. For example, one of our previous interns researched how creativity is being taught in global education systems. This is a very important question for society going forward and it’s something we want to know more about.
You don’t need to be someone who already knows a lot about their research topic, or has any knowledge of investments or finance. We don’t expect you to know all the answers at this stage, but you should know how to ask the right questions. You can be studying any subject, but you must be a penultimate year undergraduate or in the penultimate or final year of a PhD. If you’re a self-starter who is open-minded to new ideas and ways of thinking, we want to hear from you.
“I gained a new confidence in myself, both from fulfilling challenging research on a topic I was previously unfamiliar with, and from meeting inspiring people.”Anna Murphy,
After reading the British Antarctic Survey I realised that, increasingly, climate data is being gathered by satellite. I was surprised to discover that SpaceX plans to launch 12,000 new satellites in the coming years. This didn’t seem to be something that was being widely reported in the press and I was curious. I discovered that the most interesting developments are happening on the hardware side, such as technologies that enable satellites to operate through clouds or at night, so this became my focus.
I started by attending conferences in Amsterdam, Berlin and the European Space Agency’s Living Planet Symposium in Milan. This was a great introduction to the industry and the format meant that experts were easy to approach and happy to share their knowledge with me. I also read as many public papers and scientific journals as I could and spent a lot of time in the library at Imperial.
The whole experience has been very positive. I’m sharing a flat with another intern right in the centre of town, opposite the National Portrait Gallery, which is great. The team I’m sitting with have made me feel very welcome and the culture here really suits me. You can get on with your own thing but it’s really easy to ask for help if you need it.
I’ve really enjoyed the research aspect. It was great to be given the time and financial resources to investigate a subject I found so interesting. Satellites are going to be one of the biggest sources of information in the future and this kind of data generates $320 billion of revenue a year.
I am interested in looking into the potential treatments for spinal cord injuries. Every day in the UK three people are paralysed mainly through car accidents or sporting injuries and the number’s rising. The financial impact on the NHS is massive. My initial idea was to look at the possibility of brain transplants. An Italian, Dr Sergio Canavero, has claimed to have successfully grafted the head of a monkey onto another body. However, I then decided to focus on the main treatments and procedures that are currently being developed.
I started out by talking to experts in the UK. I spoke to the Chair of the International Spinal Research Trust in London, met with academics researching electrical stimulation in Leeds and discussed cell transplants at Glasgow University. From there I went to America to visit the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and met Professor Mary Bunge, one of my idols. Then I went on to Boston to meet with Professor Zhigang who is researching eye transplants. This is viewed as a downsized version of a brain transplant, as it also involves connecting complex nerves. Success in this area could lead to breakthrough techniques for brain surgery.
Until I came to the office, I imagined investment management to be like the film ‘Wall Street’. But everyone here is really friendly, and it’s much more interesting than I originally thought. Baillie Gifford has a positive change fund that is about helping to create a more sustainable world and there’s an investor who specialises in the healthcare industry. They’re a really forward-looking company.
Plans change all the time and you have to be prepared to go with whatever happens. You also have to bug people and be quite pushy. This took me outside of my comfort zone, but it’s made me more confident in approaching people and was necessary to persuade these world-class experts to share their incredible knowledge.
In recent years there have been a number of advancements in developing enzymes with the ability to break down plastic waste into its original monomers. This could revolutionize recycling by introducing different enzymes at different stages of the recycling process to deal with contaminated plastics that are difficult to recycle. It’s a subject I thought would be very interesting, but knew it would be challenging, as I’m not from a science background.
I started by researching the plastics industry and spent three days at the PDM (Plastics, Design & Modelling) Conference where I met many influential companies and individuals. After visiting a wind farm company in Denmark, I then met with a Senior Scientist in Environmental Chemistry at ETH University in Zurich. He is researching microbes found in the soil in China, which are naturally breaking down plastics used to protect agricultural fields. Throughout the summer, I spoke to academics and industry-leading organisations from Europe, Canada and America via Skype, telephone and email.
This has been an exciting opportunity to travel and explore new ideas and places. Along the way I’ve spoken to lots of truly inspiring people leading innovative companies and organisations. Pollution has become a huge issue in recent years, so to be able to research and understand more about potential solutions has been fantastic. I’ve also gained a lot of experience and confidence in both sharing my ideas and speaking to influential individuals and companies.
I didn’t know anything about Investment Management before I started this internship but coming into the offices at Baillie Gifford has been really intellectually stimulating. The investors here research a huge range of interesting ideas and look at companies that have the potential to make a big difference to the world.
We used to have a more traditional approach to internships and invite students to work in our offices during the summer period. But this felt artificial and didn’t accurately reflect the job or our forward-thinking ethos. So, we created the Alternative Internship to better illustrate the purpose and approach of our firm as well as dispel some preconceptions about investment management as a career choice.
At Baillie Gifford we try to imagine what the future will look like – we research ideas, form a hypothesis and discuss our opinions. This is the role of an Investment Analyst at the firm and what we expect our candidates to do during their internship.
Sometimes less is more and having the ability to distil complex thoughts into short, coherent arguments is an essential part of life here at Baillie Gifford. Limiting answers to 300 words shows us that you can consider a large amount of information but then focus on the most salient points to communicate your idea succinctly.
We deliberately give our interns very little guidance, as we expect them to be self-motivated and organised enough to carry out their own research. This is just what we expect of our Investment Analysts. You’ll have the independence and complete freedom to make the most of this exciting opportunity.