Helen Xiong

Joined in 2008 after studying Economics at the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge

Helen Xiong stood leaning against a worktop in the Baillie Gifford office.

Constantly learning

The learning curve at Baillie Gifford is continuous and multi-dimensional. As you start out, you will learn to identify great businesses and discover that intellectual development is a never-ending process. In your third or fourth year, there is an opportunity to mentor new trainees joining the programme. This chance to grow your people skills will provide another dimension to your development. You’ll also gradually become more involved with the client-side, developing your presentation and influencing skills. To have an impact as an analyst, you must bring other people along in your thinking.

Becoming partner

Becoming partner wasn’t something I consciously worked towards. My focus has always been on becoming a better investor whilst maintaining my sense of self. When I look back at how I’ve developed, I’ve become more radical in speaking my mind and less afraid to be wrong. The firm is always tolerant of bad outcomes. That’s because the magnitude of a right outcome could easily outweigh all the bad ones.

Shifting priorities

My work has been my hobby, and I’ve not consciously separated the two. However, priorities change, and since I’ve had a family, things are different. I’ve experimented with various working patterns to find what works for me, and I now do four days a week spread over five. I can now pick my children up from school and hear their stories first-hand. Working part-time certainly hasn’t affected my progression in the firm, coming a long way with diversity and inclusion. It’s great to see policies like the equalising of parental leave, several of my male colleagues have taken six months of parental leave, setting a great example for others.

Growth mindset is key

When I interview candidates for the Equities stream, I‘m not looking for any particular skillset. I’m looking for a mindset. It’s not about what you know or who you are today, but what you believe in and who you could become. I’m looking for people with a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval, people who are constantly trying to challenge and stretch themselves. When you’re trying to imagine the future, there’s a high chance you might be wrong. Feedback cycles can be very long, not knowing the outcome of your decisions for five or more years. You have to learn to deal with these things. You also have to be someone who’s self-motivated and enjoys the process of research and learning.

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