My first year at BlackRock

  • BlackRock

After a year at BlackRock as a Director within the UK OCIO business team, Lara Edmonstone-West explains how she has adapted and what she has learned.

I joined BlackRock for the people. But it was the strength of the OCIO fiduciary management offering that first attracted me to the business.

In a market that is evolving so rapidly, you want to be in the strongest possible company. After spending some time at a boutique fiduciary manager, I really felt that BlackRock had the greatest OCIO offering.

Throughout the interview process, I met a range of BlackRock people and was able to appreciate the breadth and depth of talent that the firm attracts, and the genuinely unique culture that allows each employee to thrive.

True team effort

Covid changed the culture of many businesses massively, but BlackRock managed to keep its collegiate approach alive, even when we could not travel to meet face-to-face. Now that we are back in the office together, it is even more apparent.

Everything at BlackRock is a team effort. The company has values and principles, but these aren’t just written down – they are real and lived day-by-day.

This results in better service for our clients, as well as an exciting working environment for me and for my colleagues.

Reassuring our clients

The last 12 months has included some volatile times for the markets. Our clients, like all investors, have needed reassurance and reminders about the benefits of long-term investing.

We have taken every opportunity to meet them face-to-face. Clients have seen the advantages of being able to sit down with us to talk, meet people and build trust.

BlackRock is a very stable organisation, which is important when markets are rocky. And we’ve got amazing technology, which benefits clients, too.

Though stability is generally returning, I think that trust is going to be vital over the next six months, so I’m glad BlackRock has been so supportive of us speaking with clients as much as we need to.

We haven’t panicked or stepped back from our values – and we’ve been able to talk with and meet clients to reassure them of that.

I’m expecting the next six months to bring constant evolution – and I’m ready for it.

Big yet personal

BlackRock is big and I think some people might worry that when they partner with us they are suddenly exposed to a huge organisation where they could get a bit lost.

My experience from this past year is that this isn’t the case. We make sure every client has a couple of people who they know well and can advocate for them. Our job is to open the door to BlackRock so they meet the right people at the right time. We never lose the personal touch.

Living our vision and values

I’m a firm believer in holding true to your personal values at work – and I really feel that at BlackRock I can be myself.

It’s the first time I feel that I've been at a company where my personal values match.

One new thing I’ve got involved with is The Girls’ Network, an organisation that provides mentoring to girls between the ages of 14 and 19 to inspire and empower these girls not to have their futures limited by gender, ethnicity, background or parental income. BlackRock supports this programme and I’ve just been matched with my first mentee.

She’s incredible and I’m going to spend a year mentoring her to help her work out what she wants to do and how to get there.

I’ve never been involved in something like this before. BlackRock encouraged me to do it. It's part of my work plan, will be included in my objectives and I’ll talk to my manager about it. I love that.

If you asked me what I’ve learned most over the last 12 months, I’d say that I finally understand why people stay in a company for a long time. And I’ve never felt that way before.

Lara Edmonstone-West
Director, UK OCIO Business

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