Giles Elliott, would you like to introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?
I am Giles Elliott. I am just north of 50 and I have two children aged 21 and 20 – my son is an ambitious chef working for Alain Roux at the and my daughter is studying in Budapest. I was born in Vienna and have lived in 11 countries and I’m in the midst of my mid-life crisis – it started 14 years ago with flying lessons in Sydney and has extended to motorcycling, racing karts, living on a houseboat in Singapore… and there’s no end in sight! I have enjoyed an amazing career – 25 years working in banking all over the world, travelling on business to over 70 countries over this time. I now work in financial services technology – the biggest move outside my previous comfort zone, working to align the power of technology solutions with firms across the capital markets domain – from stock exchanges to asset management firms. My passions are food and wine, motor racing, rugby and travelling to places less travelled. I’ve also coached my son at motor-racing from karts since he was young, and love spending a day at a circuit while he tests or races something with four wheels.
How did you discover Astriid’s work, and what motivated you to get involved?
I was introduced to Astriid through Tarek Anwar, one of the other Trustees, who I got to know in Singapore at Standard Chartered. My wife passed away from cancer almost 3 years ago after an 18-month illness and had suffered from ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) for many years following a near-miss with Meningitis when she was 18 years old. I could immediately relate to the frustrations that people with life-changing illnesses feel when access to work and colleagues is removed or challenged. Astriid appealed to me not purely because I could relate to the challenge in question, but also the relative immaturity of the agenda and clear opportunity to work with such a great team. I want to help shape this agenda, and add value with my own contributions.
Giles Elliott, you have a wealth of experience in business and finance and know first-hand how competitive the industry can be. Do you have any advice for Astriid candidates interested in this sector?
I have loved my time working in this sector. From one dimension it is just a global business, but it is constantly evolving as regulation, technology, disruptors and client demands force it to change and adapt. Concepts like open banking are forcing firms to consider a more connected, open, and less captive banking landscape. Focussing on a real client experience and benefits is paramount and clients have more choice than ever before. My advice to candidates considering a career in this sector is to join because you are energised by the fast-changing pace, rather than feeling threatened by it. It is great if operating with degrees of ambiguity appeal to you and where you thrive on the thrill of driving and executing change. The pace and expectations are often high, but the opportunities in terms of role progression, responsibility and options to travel can be very appealing.
As somebody who performs executive and leadership roles, what qualities do you, Giles Elliott, most admire in the people you work with?
I have always admired a leader who brings a clear aspirational vision – where the path is not clearly laid out. This approach can energise a team to solve the impossible challenge and bring people together through a cause far more fundamental than simply financial results. Within a team I admire the ability to have fun at work regardless of the pressures, people who are open and honest with views and opinions, and those who are realistic and pragmatic when making commitments. You’ve accomplished many things over the course of your career, but we want to know how you switch off and relax!
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I rediscovered rowing a couple of years ago after a short break of 30 years and love getting onto the water in either an 8, 4, pair or single. With COVID my sculling has come on in leaps and bounds. Living in Somerset I love wandering down to watch the rugby – I won’t be the only one praying for a day when this will be available again. I also love eating out and tasting a new set of flavours and a chef’s creation or innovation, where this is an experience rather than a meal.