Ever wondered how a global investment firm operates? Take a guided tour.
Business Operations play a vital role in the success of Baillie Gifford. We’ve been described as ‘the oil in the machine’ – keeping everything within the business running smoothly. All the areas of Business Operations are interlinked, and what we do is critical to the success of our whole company. Whether it’s liaising with clients on accounting, processing trades or analysing operational risk, we add value at every stage of the process.
Everyone’s journey on our Business Operations Graduate Programme is different. We don’t expect you to know where you want to specialise, and so our rotational programme is designed to help you explore your interests and the different opportunities available. Your first two years are about getting a broad overview of Business Operations as you experience a series of placements across the firm. Discovering other teams and building strong networks, you’ll meet people from across the business, including the partners who own the firm.
We’re looking for Baillie Gifford’s leaders of the future, so we have designed our training programme to help you discover your own style of leadership. Through a wide range of placements in different areas of the firm, you’ll get directly involved in the work of the departments and experience the varied management styles within the business. You’ll also be given real responsibility and the chance to be involved in live projects that could make a lasting difference to the firm.
Baillie Gifford uses a candidate management system delivered and supported by Workday. You are now leaving the Baillie Gifford website and transferring to the system hosted by Workday on behalf of Baillie Gifford. Both Baillie Gifford and Workday take all reasonable steps to ensure your personal data is held securely, protected against unauthorised access and only kept for as long as is necessary.
“We are seeking individuals who can use their drive, initiative and determination to create success, not just for Baillie Gifford but also for their own career.”
During your rotational programme, you’ll complete six 3 ½ month placements in our different business streams: Clients Department Operations, Professional Services, Investment Services and Investment Operations. Following the placement in each of these four areas, your fifth rotation will be project-based, giving you the chance to work on one of our many cross-firm improvement projects. Finally, during your sixth placement, you’ll get the option to spend time with another Operations area of your choice or apply for an international placement at one of our international offices, such as Dublin, New York or Hong Kong.
Throughout the programme, as well as constant on-the-job training, you’ll follow a structured development plan. This involves training in a range of professional skills designed to help you explore different management techniques and shape you into a future leader within our business. In year one, this includes guidance on how to understand and relate to others, time management, and networking. The courses will have more of a leadership focus in year two, including topics such as problem-solving in complex environments, coaching skills and becoming a resilient leader. You’ll also receive tutoring and study leave to gain the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) and Investment Management Certificate (IMC) qualifications. And at every stage, you’ll have the support of a dedicated buddy, a senior year group mentor (usually an Operational Partner) and a department host too.
With this solid foundation, after two years you’ll go on to develop your skills as either a project, team or technical leader, completing a further two or three 12 to 18 month placements in different teams. This is your opportunity to find out where your specialisms lie and to explore your full potential, while searching for ways to help us find ours.
It doesn’t matter what background you come from, as we will give you all the support you need to build and develop your skills to be a future business leader. At Baillie Gifford it’s your individuality that’s your strength. If you’re an inquisitive thinker and strive to understand how things work, you would be an ideal fit for our Business Operations Graduate Programme.
We’re not looking for graduates with a particular degree. Instead, we’re looking for people who are critical-thinkers and real team players. It’s your thirst for knowledge and problem-solving skills that we need, which is why our trainees come from a wide range of disciplines – everything from Geography and Physics to Business and Politics.
We’re proud to have a diverse team, where each member brings their unique set of talents and experiences to their role. Although we’re completely open-minded about your background, you must have a passion for business. You should be fascinated by the way organisations work and want to strive to make them better.
Throughout the programme you’ll constantly be moving between teams and meeting new people. So, we want to see a flexible approach and the networking skills that will enable you to build relationships across the firm and get the most out of each placement.
Complete a short online application form. We will review your application to find out more about you and assess whether you have the skills, attributes and curiosity to make a good Business Operations graduate.
If you are successful in the first phase, we will invite you for a first interview with some of our Business Operations professionals. We will explore your application in more detail, talk about the academic and professional choices that you’ve made so far, together with some competency-based questions that assess your abilities and experience.
The final stage of interviewing is the most in depth. You will attend an assessment centre with other applicants which will include a second interview and a group exercise. You will also have the chance to speak informally to current graduates, managers and the Early Careers Team about Baillie Gifford.
Heriot Watt, International Business Management
Towards the end of university, I looked at the range of business programmes available, and a lot of them were for a specific area of the business. Baillie Gifford stood out as it was more general – an opportunity to find out how the entire company works instead of only ‘finance' or ‘HR’. I’d previously done a summer internship with a global financial services firm in London and was offered a role in their graduate scheme. However, when the opportunity at Baillie Gifford came up, I realised I wanted to work for a smaller firm where I could experience the whole business. I love Edinburgh too, so staying in the city was a bonus.
By the end of the programme, you understand what the other departments do, and you’ve built contacts within all of the different areas. So whichever role you go into, you’ll bring valuable knowledge that your new team can use. Building a network in this way is a considerable benefit. If you’re working on a project, you know who to talk to and see where the expertise is.
After the programme, I joined the Systems department as a business analyst. I sit between the developers, and our internal clients, speaking to people about their business needs and briefing the developers to make this happen. It’s also a chance to be creative. If their current systems don’t work as well as they should, I have to think making them better. The job varies depending on which developers you’re working with – some like to create the ideas, others are more tech-focused and want you to help them develop solutions.
In January, I agreed to do a secondment and work with two external consultants on a new project across investment operations. We are consulting with multiple teams in the business to update our strategy and procedures for countering financial crime, like money laundering. The first part of the project was to interview over 60 people across Operations who interact with our existing processes. One of the consultants previously worked at the FCA, so it’s been really interesting to learn from his experience.
In each rotation I completed, everyone was willing to spend time explaining things, so it’s been very easy to fit in. Throughout the graduate programme, I took advantage of the opportunities that came my way and learnt as much as possible. Upon finishing the scheme I joined the Business Improvement team and, aside from my main role, I have also been appointed as one of the managers of the Business Operations Graduate Programme. The knowledge, skills and network I built up during the programme have been invaluable in both of these roles.
University of Aberdeen, History & Politics
I went to the careers fair at university and picked many brochures, including Baillie Gifford’s. I then chose the companies I was interested in and followed them on LinkedIn. I was a bit cynical about financial services at first but the articles Baillie Gifford posted on social media were thought-provoking and helped shift my understanding of what investing is all about. I genuinely think that the investors here have brilliant minds, and this shines through in the firm’s social media content. You always feel like you’re learning something new, and that’s what drew me in.
We had a month-long induction, that included lots of professional skills training. There was a ‘design for success’ module, with external trainers teaching us skills like time-management, leadership, and effective communication. We also received coaching on presentation techniques from a retired actor, which really helped during our graduate project. We had to work together to create a presentation about the firm’s Shared Belief: ‘We are an engaging and progressive place to work’. At the end of the induction, we also began studying for our IOC and IMC qualifications with one of the best teachers I’ve ever had!
When I was at university, I started two businesses – one running student events and the other selling popcorn during the Edinburgh Festival. From this, my interest in businesses and how they work grew. I am interested in learning about processes and designing new ways of doing things. If you only want a job where you turn up and get told what to do, you won't make the most out of this opportunity. You must be willing to add value. Senior people in the firm are happy to give you their time and share their knowledge, but you need to be proactive.
There are a lot of transferable skills from my degree. For example, studying causation (why things happened and how they happen) is crucial to understanding why certain business decisions are made. With a Humanities degree, you learn to join the dots between lots of different pieces of information to understand the bigger picture. Similarly, during the Business Operations programme, you’re learning about so many different things. You’re doing placements in various teams and trying to understand their place within the wider business.
University of Edinburgh, Economics
The application process felt simple and very people-focused, especially compared to other employers. After my initial application, the first assessment stage was sitting in the firm’s office, having a face-to-face interview, and delivering a presentation to potential line managers. Throughout, there was a real emphasis on spending time with people to discuss and explore the opportunity and my motivations. Baillie Gifford even organised a dinner the night before my assessment day, which was a great chance to meet fellow applicants, graduates and senior managers. It helped put me at ease, and the conversations were refreshingly open and honest.
Within my first few months at Baillie Gifford, I’d completed my induction training, passed an IOC exam, finished my first rotation in the Client Administration Department and delivered our graduate project. The induction was a great mix of face-to-face and online training, covering fund management, equities, bonds and derivatives, plus a range of personal development topics. The firm’s also very happy to help you source specific training opportunities, which is noteworthy.
During the first month, we had the chance to shape our own learning sessions. We hosted eight sessions with 28 departments across the firm. Each department gave us an overview of their work, followed by a ‘speed dating’ style event, which let us explore specific areas of expertise with members from different teams. It was a great way to understand how everything slots together and gain insight into areas of interest for our graduate project.
As I approach the end of the graduate programme, I can fully appreciate how much we’ve covered. There’s been a huge amount to learn and deliver – it’s been challenging and daunting at times with the occasional moment of self-doubt. However, the support I’ve had has made all the difference. Clichéd as it may sound, Baillie Gifford really does feel like a big family, and everyone has been welcoming and willing to help. It’s been the launchpad to growing my confidence and knowledge day-by-day, and each placement I’ve completed has offered something new and exciting to learn.
University of Strathclyde, French & Marketing
You shouldn’t come in with any preconceptions about the job or the programme – keep an open mind. In other organisations, graduates might have more limited options, yet the nature of our rotational programme means that there’s always change, giving you different experiences. You definitely need to take opportunities as they come.
It’s the variety that’s kept me here. After finishing the Business Operations graduate programme, I started with Corporate Actions and then moved to the Cash and FX Settlement team, before joining the North American Fund Operations Department (NAFOD). I’ve been in the team for seven years and worked in fund administration, client dealing, financial reporting and fair value pricing (pricing our funds). I’m currently overseeing the intermediary firms that we use to facilitate the investments of our North American clients. I’ve definitely not been bored!
For the last two years, I’ve been a manager in the Business Operations programme. A key part of this has been reviewing its structure and aims. As Baillie Gifford continues to grow and the size and responsibilities of our investment operations increase, we hope the programme will deliver us the technical specialists, project managers and team leaders of the future. Our new structure will have longer, more in-depth secondments to ensure the trainees have a sound grounding in certain departments and get involved in significant pieces of work.
I’ve been involved in the graduate programme interview process for several years. We look for team players who can build relationships quickly. We need good communicators that can strike up a conversation with people. You need to be flexible and show you can change your approach depending on who in the business you’re working with. When you apply, you don’t’ have to be 100% certain about what you want to do, but you must be curious and open to exploring the options.
University of Glasgow, Geography
The application process was straightforward. Some companies have 20 page online forms that take hours to complete. Here I was able to explain, in my own words, why I felt I was suited to the role and had an interview to say what I really thought.
With my degree background, I was a little worried that I’d be at a disadvantage – but I’ve not had a problem at all. I learnt so much in the two-year programme about the whole business cycle, with great training opportunities, and I had the chance to find out what interests me.
I liked the rotational nature of the graduate scheme. At the end of it, you’ve experienced everything from Settlements to Risk to Systems to Audit. At first, everything is new, but you soon develop knowledge in so many different areas and build your own network of contacts around the business.
The people are friendly and approachable at all levels, and I had lots of opportunities to attend meetings and lunches with senior partners. And it’s OK to ask questions. You might even be helping colleagues to think about things in a completely new way.
If you’re interested in something, ask to be involved. For example, I helped co-found the Baillie Gifford LGBT+ Network. Being gay I understand that joining your first workplace after university can be a daunting experience. So, for me, it was important to encourage those who identify as LGBT+ to be themselves here. By creating the network, we want to promote conversation around LGBT+ inclusion and support an open, respectful working environment.
University of Aberdeen, Accountancy & Management
After the graduate programme, I moved into a marketing and communications role where I was helping to produce marketing materials, presentations and pitches. I worked with Baillie Gifford’s Fixed Income teams, which was a fantastic opportunity to learn about their investment strategies. After just over a year, an opportunity came up for a secondment to the newly set up Dublin office for Baillie Gifford Europe. I applied and got the job.
In Dublin, I joined a small team of seven responsible for setting up Baillie Gifford Europe (BGE). Moving to Dublin was quite a daunting prospect, but the team made me feel at home straight away. Because BGE had only been up and running for about a year, I had the opportunity to get involved in several different business areas. I also had invaluable exposure to the day-to-day running of a company and discussions at the highest levels.
Since my secondment, I’ve taken on a newly created role as a global service associate in Edinburgh. It’s my job to support the teams in our new Zurich and Frankfurt offices and our Middle East client services team. It’s an opportunity to put all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained during and since the programme to good use. Most of the teams in our international offices haven’t worked in Edinburgh, so I liaise with the right people here to make sure they get what they need from the business. It’s exciting to see how the firm is growing and the new opportunities it brings.
One of the best things about Baillie Gifford is the supportive culture. Last year, due to the circumstances, the whole firm took an extra day off for wellbeing. Your health and happiness is a big priority for the company, and they really make a point of looking after everyone. For example, when the Christmas party was cancelled, we all got a Christmas hamper delivered instead. For me, it’s these small things that make you feel valued and contribute to the inclusive culture at the firm.