What leaders think
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The Hoggett Bowers 2 Minute Interview: Mike Tumilty

Mike Tumilty Standard Life Aberdeen

What have been some of the key learnings for you since March last year and are now applying in your business?

The last 12 months has changed how we think. Prior to the lockdown and the remote working I thought of my colleagues almost as office based bubbles of activity but through the remote working and the pandemic, I see them as individuals, as people. I take the time to check they are OK and not assume, because you are effective, you must be alright.  

As we move forward from the pandemic and look to the future, what business opportunity most excites you?

Our digital journey has taken another step. Changes were made for customers and clients but the response to the Covid challenge, it created a world of opportunities. It persuaded many who had previously been reluctant to embrace technology. The pandemic allowed us to show case potential improvements. Digitally enabled business processes not only improving the customer experience but by transferring some processes creating more meaningful work for employees as well.

Given the important part that technology has played in all sectors during the pandemic, how do you envisage technology developing in your organisation going forward?

The technology awareness I refer to was heightened for example in communications with Zoom. Who would have thought large complex businesses could be run so effectively in this way? Digital media has become such an important part and our ability to deploy the core applications remotely and securely. The step we made, it just showed the need for good architecture and an effective technology stack. As a global asset management company headquartered in Edinburgh we had the global infrastructure to be working with colleagues in Singapore, New York, etc but it was a logistical hurdle to extend overnight to everyone’s living room! This flexibility, it will continue.

When are you planning some form of return to the office and how is this being structured?

Hybrid will be the way forward. We are working to the 4 C’s. Coach, connect, collaborate, and continue. In the office we will coach meet and interact, and to be wholly productive, some tasks and roles will be better served by continuing in the office. As we have seen with remote working, our emphasis is to lead by outcome with clearly agreed goals and metrics. I have noticed, when chairing a meeting, you must bring everyone into the room. Ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute.  

With sustainability and ESG being more prevalent on the Board agenda, what is your business doing to meet net zero carbon emission targets by 2050, if not earlier?

We have set a 50% reduction in operational emissions by 2025 and net zero by 2050. As an Asset Manager we need to be aware of what our clients have signed up to and help them meet their own commitments. Clients are investing based upon a variety of criteria, TCFD, FSDR compliance or net zero carbon. We need to ensure the assets we manage on their behalf help them meet these obligations by scrutinizing the companies we invest in and if necessary hold them to account through voting rights. ESG shapes the corporate, client and the supply chain. Our due diligence needs to be thorough.

How has your business changed in its approach to employee wellbeing during the pandemic and what will it continue to do more of in the future?

Our communication and support with regards to health and wellbeing. We have run corporate global challenges to encourage active, physical health and wellbeing, promoted to all colleagues across the globe. And a big push on ensuring virtual celebrations, the life events, the retirements, the birthdays, they are celebrated. Ensure the milestones are not missed.   

Who or what has inspired you recently? (They don’t need to be famous)

I am a football fan and a passionate supporter of Hartlepool United. I was inspired by Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent documentary film made by his son. Never Give In recounts Sir Alex’s life, growing up in Govan, his playing career with Rangers (amongst others) and the challenges of his professional and personal life, including health recovering from a brain haemorrhage. Sir Alex’s natural talent but also his resilience and belief in the role leadership and management play in achieving and sustaining success. Leadership resilience has been a stand out for me.

Lots of people took up new hobbies in 2020. Have you learnt a new skill or taken up a hobby during the pandemic and will you continue with it?

I started running again in 2017 and completed my first London Marathon at the age of 46. I have completed 8 since. So running, over the last 12 months, it has helped me. It ticks all the boxes – daily exercise, headspace and physical fitness. 

Have you booked your 2021 holiday(s) yet?

At risk of tempting fate – yes, I have! The postponed 2020 Berlin Marathon is set to take place on the 26th Sept 2021 and assuming Germany’s on the green list, I will be going. And then the Tokyo Marathon on Oct 17th but, all the stars will need to align to make it happen.

Any words of wisdom?

As mentioned at outset, don’t assume everyone on screen, they are OK. Take the time to ensure people you work with, they are OK. The pandemic’s taught us to be more thoughtful.