Ariel Speicher, Chief Human Resources Officer, on Learning, Talent Development, Mentorship, and Internal Mobility
Ariel Speicher joined Point72 in 2016 after almost a decade with American Express, most recently as a senior member of their HR team. Born and raised in Baltimore, Ariel studied history at Yale, got her MPhil in European Studies at Cambridge, then her MBA at the London Business School, where she decided to pursue a career in HR. We caught up with her to discuss talent development, mentorship, and internal mobility at Point72.
What does your role at Point72 encompass?
I oversee human capital. This includes the full employee lifecycle, from recruiting and onboarding new talent to developing existing talent. My team and I also oversee performance management, compensation, leadership training, coaching, and benefits.
Can you give me a brief overview of the learning and development offerings at the firm?
We are a talent business, so it’s no surprise that learning and development is critical to our success as a firm. One thing that differentiates us, however, is our commitment to giving employees the time and space to experiment and then learn from those experiences to make better decisions in the future.
On the investing side, we have programs like the Point72 Academy and the Cubist Quant Academy. We provide early-stage employees with a rigorous understanding of how to invest in a given strategy and we support them through the learning process—akin to an apprenticeship. In Long/Short, we continue to support analysts with coaching and reviews. We also have Point72 LaunchPoint, a program dedicated to training senior analysts to be portfolio managers.
Can you tell me about the mentorship program for our colleagues who aren’t on the investment side?
There are two elements to the Investment Services mentorship program. First is a one-to-one career advice mentorship program. We want people to be able to connect with others who they might not have interacted with, either because they are in a different geography or business line. We also want mentees to have the benefit of hearing from someone who has done interesting things and who might be able to ask insightful questions, or to just listen and give advice.
We’ve also started a group mentoring set-up, which we call mentoring circles. A handful of individuals from different functions, with different backgrounds and in different locations, were chosen, and we brought them together under a single mentor as part of our pilot program. We hope that this format creates a group dynamic, where participants can discuss issues at the firm or challenges people are facing, and grow relationships with a cohort of people across the firm.
Tell me about the opportunities for internal mobility at the firm.
One of the great things about working at Point72 is the breadth and variety of career opportunities. We are increasingly finding that leaving room for growth and movement within the firm ensures employees are more satisfied and stay with the firm longer.
Of late, we’ve also seen more internal movement between the investment and non-investment sides of the house. It’s not just folks from Investment Services joining the Academy. We’ve also seen migration the other way, like former portfolio managers or analysts moving to other roles in Investment Services. I think that sends a great signal that we welcome talent moving in either direction, and that’s a sign of the breadth of opportunity here. I’m not sure that all firms are able to offer the two-way track that we have.
What’s unique about working here?
It’s rare in life to be surrounded by so many smart, interesting, curious people and that is one of our greatest benefits. We have put so much energy into bringing in the best talent to this firm. My advice to employees is, take advantage of that. Spend time with your peers and learn about other sides of the business.
When you’re looking for the best talent, what else do you look for besides smart, interesting, and curious?
I think we’re discovering the importance of resilience. When I was in school, there was a view that you should hire the perfect student, the one who got all A’s. I think a lot of us were schooled in places where it was constantly about being the best. What entrepreneurship has really opened my eyes to is that you can’t function that way because you need to experience failing to learn how to get back up and succeed.
It takes grit to be able to pick yourself up after failing. I think people who have figured that out, who’ve had setbacks and challenges and picked themselves up, have learned something significant in that process. When you get to an environment that is fast-paced, competitive and challenging, it may be easier to weather the storms if you’ve been through a tough experience before.