Ever wondered how a global investment firm operates? Take a two-year guided tour.Applications for our Graduate Programmes are now closed and will open again in the summer of 2021.
Business Operations plays a vital role in the success of Baillie Gifford. We’ve been described as ‘the oil in the machine’ – not seen on the outside but keeping everything within the business running smoothly. All the areas of Business Operations are interlinked, and what we do here is critical to the success of our whole business. Whether it’s liaising with clients on accounting to processing trades or analysing operational risk, we add value at every stage of the process. It’s all about connectivity. Our focus is on building strong people networks, giving you the chance to meet people at every level and within every area of the business, including the partners who own the firm.
During your two-year rotational programme, you’ll gain broad-ranging experience across the diverse operational functions that underpin our business. Your placements will vary in length from a week to a couple of months, so you’ll be constantly experiencing new areas and expanding your knowledge. As you progress, you’ll increasingly get the opportunity to add real value to the business, contribute to key projects and bring in new ideas.
“Ultimately, we’re looking for motivated people who have ideas, initiative and a hunger for learning. The sort of person who spots an opportunity and asks to be involved.”
There’s constant on-the-job training, as well as study leave to help you achieve professional qualifications, such as the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) and Investment Management Certificate (IMC).
Everyone’s journey here is different. We don’t expect you to know what area you want to specialise in when you join us. These two years are about exploring, learning and discovering just where your long-term career could take you within Baillie Gifford. It’s your opportunity to explore your full potential, while searching for ways to help us achieve ours.
If you’re an inquisitive thinker and strive to understand how things work, then you would be an ideal fit for our Business Operations Graduate Programme. It’s your individuality that’s your strength here at Baillie Gifford.
For us, it’s not about looking for graduates from a particular degree. Instead, we look for particular graduates – people who are critical thinkers and team players. It’s your thirst for knowledge and problem solving skills that we’re looking for, which is why our trainees come from a wide range of disciplines – everything from Geography and Physics to Business and Finance.
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 what you studied, you must have an interest in business. You also need to be fascinated by the way organisations work and want to strive to make them better.
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 one of our Business Operations professionals and a member of the HR team. 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, as well as inviting you to present on a topic related to Business Operations.
The final stage of interviewing is also 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 HR representatives about Baillie Gifford.
The initial induction is a massive learning curve, but everything soon starts to click together. Then there’s the ongoing training – everything from fund management, bonds and equities, to things like presentation skills and I also studied towards external professional exams during this time. The knowledge gained from these courses provided a good base for my role upon finishing the graduate programme.
The programme rotations give you a broad understanding of how the business operates, and at the same time the variety of work helps you to understand your strengths. Every time you move on, it’s almost like starting a new job so it allows you to challenge yourself and work on any weaknesses.
As part of the programme I attended an Outward Bound course with a great group who work in a variety of roles here. I now spend time socially with people from areas such as IT, Compliance, and the Investment teams. These relationships proved useful during my time on the programme and are extremely valuable in my current role.
Business Operations seems to me to be about the balance between people and process. The programme itself requires a balance between being confident, willing to learn and being able to take feedback. You can get up-to-speed in the graduate programme, absorbing all around you, but you certainly won’t know everything!
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.
The application process was straightforward. Some companies have 20 page online forms that take hours to complete. Here I had a lot of scope to put into my own words why I felt I was suited to the role, and at 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: at times you might be helping colleagues to think about things in a completely new way.
If you’re interested in something, ask to be involved. For example, last year I helped co-found the Baillie Gifford LGBTQ+ Network. Being gay, I understand that joining your first workplace after university can be a daunting experience. So, for me it was important that those who identify as LGBTQ+ are encouraged to be themselves here. By creating the network, we want to promote conversation around LGBTQ+ inclusion and support an open, respectful working environment.
After working for Scottish Athletics and Edinburgh University Sport & Exercise I decided I wanted to take a step back from sport and reassess my options. So, I did some research and discovered Baillie Gifford’s graduate scheme. I was concerned about my lack of experience in financial services, but my background in sport proved to be an advantage. It was clear from the start that Baillie Gifford are looking for people who can think differently and bring something new to the conversation.
Whilst so many rotations over the two-year graduate scheme might seem daunting, it is a fantastic opportunity to build a firm wide network, to see how each department interlinks and to find out how each small unit contributes to Baillie Gifford as a whole. This is an opportunity that few people get and, as I come to the end of the two years, I am in a great position to move into a permanent role. One of the best things about the programme is getting to know so many people throughout the business.
The Investment Operations Certificate (IOC) and Investment Management Certificate (IMC) exams have been one of my biggest challenges. But it’s been good to further develop my study skills and self-motivation. There’s plenty of support too, with a pre-exam course and the opportunity to ask plenty of questions. It’s also comforting to know that, if you don’t succeed first time, you’ll have the support to try again.
The first nine months of my training felt a bit like someone had tipped out a jigsaw puzzle! It’s about putting the pieces together and building up a fuller picture of how things work. The opportunity to mix with so many people and teams, and make use of their varied experience, has been a vital part of the process. The past graduates I met in my induction have also been an invaluable source of help and support. The culture and hierarchy here is very open. There’s no such thing as a stupid question and, with the opportunity to move departments, you never feel pigeon-holed.
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 definitely helped to 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, done 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 great.
During September, we were given 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 of different teams. It was a great way to understand how everything slots together and to start investigating areas of interest for our graduate project.
Now I’ve nearly been with the firm for a year, there’s no doubt that there is a huge amount to learn and deliver on this graduate programme – it’s been challenging and daunting at times with the occasional moment of self-doubt. The support I’ve had has made all the difference. Cliched as it may sound, Baillie Gifford really does feels 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 I feel excited about my next rotations – each one offers something new and surprising to learn!