Standard Life Investments' U.S. office has grown to nearly 100 people from eight in the past 12 years, yet it still has managed to sustain what top executives and their employees say is a culture that feels like family.
William H. Perry, CEO since 2002 and the firm's eighth U.S. employee, could feel it as early as his job interview in the money manager's Edinburgh headquarters.
“I think it started with my interview process in 2002 when I went on my trip to Edinburgh with a dozen people as part of the process,” Mr. Perry said. “(I felt it) just meeting these people and seeing their focus and love of life and passion for people.”
A realization of the supportive culture came when Mr. Perry went out to dinner with one of his interviewers, “and as we parted he gave me a big hug,” he said. “I think it's a very warm and friendly culture and that's what differentiated it for me.”
It is easy enough to maintain a family-like environment with eight employees, but continuing that feeling of a tightly knit family has been a priority even as the U.S. office grows.
“I think our corporate culture here in the U.S. is highly aligned with the culture we have in Edinburgh,” said John T. “Jack” Boyce, managing director and head of North American distribution. “That global alignment we have in the (organization) has been really important in the sort of culture we have and the people we've looked to attract and retain.”
One initiative that has helped maintain interpersonal interaction is a Friday morning meeting of all employees in the Boston office during which team leaders discuss new developments.
Another is supporting employees' avocations. For example, “one of our employers who is an artist ... decided to put together a display,” Mr. Perry said. More than 20 employees and more than 60 people overall attended the employee's exhibit.
Employees' response to what makes Standard Life a great place to work overwhelmingly cited the culture. One said the company has a “collegial atmosphere that starts from the top down, where everyone (is) treated as equals and respected for what they bring to the table.”