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Future Asset interview with Diane Crichton

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

I’m Diane Crichton and the Senior HR Business Partner at Walter Scott. I have been with the larger group of Bank New York Mellon for over 25 years now. I started at Newton which is now purely based in London but used to have an office in Edinburgh. Newton was acquired by Mellon and then, in turn, Mellon acquired Walter Scott in 2006. I am now a Business Partner doing everything such as learning development, recruitment and employer relations.

How did Walter Scott/yourself come to learn about Future Asset in the first place?

It was mainly because of links with Didasko Education Company. We have had and still have, employees on their board and we have also worked with The Robertson Trust a lot in terms of placements and recruiting from there.

We received two places at the first Future Asset conference in 2017 so I went along with one of the investment analysts and we were just blown away as the conference was amazing. I am from the Highlands and my old school was there, all the girls and speakers were so inspirational and I suppose we always knew that in general, not just for girls, but for all school children, they really didn’t know what investment management was about.

When did Walter Scott start to support Future Asset?

We got more involved straight after that conference in 2017 so that was when I said to Helen that we were happy to support. Initially, it was more through providing volunteers for events but now we also support where we can in terms of donations. We got involved early on, Helen had got people together to discuss how we can move Future Asset forward so I was pretty much within the grass roots and moved on to being part of the Steering Committee as well.

It wasn’t a hard sell to Walter Scott employees to help out in terms of being mentors and as you know, we went to the second conference in Glasgow. A group of us went a long from all different parts of our business – it wasn’t just purely the investment team.I was also there doing a mini competition which is what we do with our interns, they have to conduct research and then sell that company to our colleagues to see if they are going to buy the stock. So there is alignment even in the competition, it’s very close to us and I think we very much saw it as a long-term investment.

Tell me a little bit about the philanthropic elements of your work both in terms of your workplace visits for students and teachers and also providing competition Investment Mentors and judges. 

Our team get so much out of this. You also don’t have to be the most senior people to get involved – in fact, schoolkids align much better with young people who are not much older than themselves so a lot of our mentors have been new grads who have started in investment.

For them and for us it’s the skills our staff get out of it, they get coaching skills, leadership skills, organisational skills, and communication skills, so for us it is also development for our employees.

In terms of the school visits, it’s great that they get a prize, but for us, the prize is that they get to see what it is really like in the office, actually seeing and meeting people. One of the first visits we did was a smaller group and our fund managers managed to allow one of the companies we invest in to get the girls to sit in meetings and listen to what we were doing, that’s amazing as that’s life in action.

In a nutshell, what were your drivers for getting involved with Future Asset? 

One was the promotion of our industry as a career for young girls. It was also great to support Future Asset as we liked and shared in their ethos. Additionally, we wanted to empower our people to get involved and make a difference.

Why has this been advantageous for you and why will you continue on that journey?

Primarily, the development of employee skills and also one of our key objectives is for a schoolgirl to become an employee with us at some point down the line. Additionally, we are keen to build wider connections with the Juniper Trust and the Robertson Trust, who work closely with Future Asset.

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