Robert Joined Standard Life Investments as a Japanese portfolio manager, in 1997 from Scottish Amicable Investment Managers. In 2002 he was promoted to the position of Head of Japanese Equities. In 2008 Robert moved to the Global Equities desk as Head of EAFE Funds. Following almost three years in that position Robert joined the Global Client Group management team in 2010 as Global Head of Product.
Any successful leader has to be passionate about three things
In his current role Robert is accountable for the management and oversight of; Product Development, Management & Governance,Investment Specialists, RFPs and Presentations across Standard Life Investments global business.
What is the biggest challenge facing your part of the sector?
The need to transform ‘middle management’ – perhaps not just an issue in the financial sector, but the industry needs to move away from selection for leadership roles being based on technical expertise or short term delivery metrics and towards selection where leadership skills, and a passion or leadership as an activity in its own right are the main driving forces.
What is an essential quality of a successful manager?
Passion – I strongly believe any successful leader has to be passionate about three things – firstly they have to show a passion for leadership itself, secondly they have to show passion for the team and each and every individual in it, and thirdly they have to passionate about their area of operation
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
To never make assumptions! I still make them, but at least now I know when I am doing it and I know I will likely be wrong!
How can we get the biggest shift towards diverse and inclusive workplaces?
I think that it’s important to focus on the outcomes more than quotas and numerical targets. Whilst targets are useful to hold senior management to account the greatest impact will come from leaders within companies seeing the massive positive impact on their results of intellectual diversity. All good teams need the ability to generate ideas through debate and discussion and to move swiftly to integrated decisions that build on all of those different perspectives – it is this that drives superior financial results, better innovation, and I believe delivers the type of leadership required in the current environment. I honestly think the carrot approach will beat the stick every time!
What interests and hobbies do you have in your spare time?
I used to be a professional rugby coach alongside my day-job, but over the last few years I have stepped back and now spend my spare time coaching young kids of all backgrounds and abilities. Whilst in some ways this couldn’t be more different from my day job, in other ways it is very similar with a focus on holistic development of individuals and the team, and making sure I don’t miss the ‘talent that whispers’. Whilst a lot is written about what business can learn from sports coaching I think the simplest read across is that in sport coaching is an everyday activity for every player on the team – it is not an annual event driven by a system for those deemed ‘talented’.