Identifying possible future growth drivers requires curious, creative thinkers who have an innate need to solve puzzles.
Mike: Hi everyone. Mike Corcoran with Institutional Investor. Thanks for joining us. We’re joined today by Ken McAtamney. Ken is a partner and head of the global equity team and a portfolio manager for William Blair’s International Growth, Global Leaders, International Leaders, and Emerging Market Leaders Strategies.
We’re going to be talking with Ken about how the active mindset can help drive outcomes. Ken, maybe we can get started by just looking at the fact that you’re growth investors. How do you identify future growth drivers in a changing world? What are the keys to successfully being able to do that on a consistent basis, and why is it important?
Ken: Yeah, thanks Mike. You rightly point out that as growth investors, we’re trying to predict the future in a way that we think things will be different in the future than they have been in the past. In other words, we’re betting against mean reversion.
As growth investors, we think differently. The reality is that the companies that will be innovating, leading their industries, 10 and 20 years from now, are probably remarkably different than that group that we experience today.
So we really have to be thinking about the future. To do that, it’s a very creative process, but you really need a foundation, that’s one that’s disciplined, that’s rooted in a philosophy, in a process that doesn’t change. But it allows you to incorporate incremental information and make these predictions about the future.
It really speaks also to a collective mindset that we have as a group—what we value, what we experience, how we process information, and how we push ourselves. This very much leads to individual mindset. The individuals that we have on the team, hopefully, understand the collective objective that we have and we can actually recruit for certain attributes and talents.
Mike: That’s interesting. That whole creative process, and the traits that you’re looking for. So how do you go about recruiting talent to fit into the team that you described?
Ken: Classically, the investment profession is one of, I think, a combination of right-brain skills and left-brain as well. It’s not one or the other, and I think there might be stereotypes around the financial world or the investment world being very left brained oriented.
Of course, we need to understand accounting and financial statements and business models and the like. And we do, but I think that just really sets the foundation or table stakes for great investing.
In particular, for growth investing, what we really are looking for are people with curious and open minds, with growth mindsets, with flexibility, with really innate need to be solving puzzles and working on problems, and trying to find and predict solutions to those.
That’s what investing really is, it’s putting those pieces together. As growth investors, I really think the core of it is an innate curiosity, and growth mindset, that really underpins our people and ultimately our investment performance.
Mike: When we continue our conversation with Ken, we’re going to be talking a little bit about how he creates a learning environment for his team, and how they pursue those outcomes.