GIG Speaker Series brings business leaders to St Andrews

George Wilder interviews GIG about their latest event, a speaker series bringing high calibre figures from the business world to St Andrews


Intern or die, that seems to be the mantra surrounding much of student life at the moment. The combination of student debt, increasing competition, and the inevitable alcoholism that will continue to plague our bank accounts long into our days post-university means the world outside The Bubble is more daunting than ever before. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to get an internship, you often find that university has rendered you thoroughly underprepared for the world of work, where even answering a phone seems daunting.

As luck would have it however, St Andrews’ own Global Investment Group (GIG), are also clued into the issues students face when trying to break into high calibre fields post-university. Their remedy for this, a group of highly knowledgable speakers from across the business world, looks like an apt way to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles facing an ambitious student upon leaving Fife, or indeed any university. I caught up with the Coordinator of the Speaker Series Victor Steiner to find out more:

The Saint: For those of us who don’t know about the speaker series could you sum up the event briefly?

Global Investment Group: “The GIG Speaker Series used to happen until 2014/2015, after that it was sadly forgotten about. The idea behind it is to bring a couple of speakers up that work in different areas of the financial and consulting industry, with different career paths, experiences and insights. Their different career paths and stories are supposed to aid students to see different ways of getting a foot into the door and starting their own career after graduating from University.

“We have three different presentations planned throughout Friday:

The first one will be Mr. Roepers, who will give a talk at 11:00pm. Mr. Roepers is the Founder, President and CIO of the New York based Investment Management Firm: “Atlantic Investment”. He will give us a talk about his personae, how he went from graduating from Harvard Business School with an MBA to setting up his own Investment Management Firm, which now employees people not only in New York but also in Tokyo. Mr. Roepers is happy to answer all questions that students might have for him.

After his talk there will be a break until Michael Wilson gives his presentation. Michael is a returning speaker for the GIG and is an University of St. Andrews Alumni. He worked at State Street in London and Tokyo for over two decades and is now an advisor to multiple FinTechs that are backed by State Street, JP Morgan and many more. Michael Wilson is looking to host an interactive presentation which will evolve around the student’s questions and interests about his career, current issues and advice for securing a job in the financial industry.

Lastly Cairngorm Capital is sending two speakers to St. Andrews from London. Cairngorm Capital is a London based Private Equity firm. Alex Bayliss and Stuart Whiteford will aim to explain to all attendees, what their work in a Private Equity Firm entails, how they got there and answer all the questions about their careers and work.  Alex Bayliss is one of the firm’s co-founders and also a St. Andrews alumni.

To finish the day off we are giving attendees the chance to mingle with our around the bar for a more informal Q&A session.”

TSWhat would you say is the ethos of the event?

GIG: “The ethos is really one that aims to aid and educate. Many students strive to work in the finance and consulting sector but might not necessarily have an idea about how to get there after university. Having different people throughout the day and listening to how they got to where they are today will definitely help students to get an idea about how to go forward in with careers.”

TS: What separates this speakers event from others on the St Andrews event calendar?

“Many educational talks that are put on in St. Andrews are run on a hit or miss basis, this means sometimes you might find the topic really interesting but cannot attend due to deadlines or other time commitments. By having the talks spread out during the day we are trying to ensure that everyone gets the chance to attend some events. It is completely up to the attendee to decide whether to attend one, two or all three talks. Also by having a Speaker Series that gives insight into many different areas of the financial industry we are hoping to give a broad perspective that is interesting to all students, regardless of degree or whether they already have work experience in finance.”

TS: In terms of opportunity, what do attendees stand to gain from attending the event?

GIG: “The possibility to attend three different presentations, which will all differ in style and content that will give a broad and in-depth insight into the world of finance. The chance to ask their questions that they want to be answered by a professional and some one on one time with the speakers at the end.”

TS: Do you have any final comments that you feel are important to bear in mind regarding the speaker series?

GIG: “The Speaker Series is really aimed at everyone who is interested in Finance, regardless of your academic background.  The speakers are very interested to hear and answer your questions and make the day as useful for you as possible. Furthermore, the ticket to attend all three events and the drinks afterwards only costs £10! Even though the first talk starts at 11:00pm and the last one at 6:30pm there is no need for you to stay the entire day, every presentation lasts about 1/1.5h- just attend as many of the three as you please.”

“As for logistics, the Tickets are available on FIXR and all talks will be held in the Swilcan Suite of the Hotel Du Vin.

“The GIG also has a Facebook page and an Event on Facebook called the “GIG Speaker Series”. Both these pages contain a lot of information about the event if you want to read some more.”

One thing is for certain; the quality of the speakers will not disappoint. Mr Roepers is even offering a lunch for those particularly interested in his talk. These will be offered on a first come first serve basis and those interested are encouraged to contact Mr Steiner for details. Somehow the prospect of graduation no longer seems so daunting, as those who attend the talks are sure to walk into their future knowing a little bit more than how to change the paper in the photocopier.


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