Leadership in Covid-19 – Interview with Triple Point Investment Management

We are delighted to continue our Leadership Interview Series with Max Shenkman and Freddie Cowper-Coles from Triple Point Investment Management.

Max is a Partner and Head of Investment with a background across corporate finance, consultancy, and venture capital. Before joining Triple Point, Max worked at Lazard.

Freddie is an Investment Manager at Triple Point and a qualified solicitor by background. Freddie joined Triple Point from Mishcon de Reya.

Triple Point is a leading alternative investment firm with a focus on social impact investing. They manage over £1.5bn of private, institutional, and public capital across real estate, debt, infrastructure and venture capital.

Tripe Point have an impressive vision and investment philosophy. The difference between Triple Point and a lot of other firms riding the ESG wave and branding themselves “impact investors” is that social impact investing was Triple Point’s founding mission and purpose. That vision is as true today as it was when the business was founded in 2004.

The focus of our discussion was around leadership, workplace culture and experiences and learnings during Covid-19. 

First question, how would you define the leadership style of the business during this period? 

“Culture has always been paramount at Triple Point. It is something that the leadership have heavily invested in and are constantly looking to preserve and strengthen. Taking a positive and proactive approach to engendering a strong culture has never been more important than during a period like this! The tone from leadership has been spot-on in our view and we would characterise this as optimistic but realistic. The communication has been frequent, open, and personable. The Managing Partners circulate a daily email to the whole business. The style of the email is personal, low key and the content varied. The content is focused not just on day to day Triple Point business but wider market and societal issues. A picture is also shared daily to inject some humour into proceedings, often a member of the team sharing something amusing about their day to day WFH set-up and experiences. Weekly video content is also shared with the aim of bringing more creative thinking and innovation into the business.”

What are your current priorities during this crisis as a team leader and part of the senior management team? 

“The two key priorities are fostering a sense of community when the team are working remotely; and keeping spirits and morale up. It is important to try to uplift the team and maintain positivity every week, as we are very aware that people are in different situations, with different challenges and that people’s state of mind ebbs and flows. We have been encouraging the team to have a cognitive cleanse by stepping away from their workspace for at least ten minutes for every hour of work. The other priority is around keeping the structure, focus and intensity of team activity. We want to make sure that if there is suddenly excess capacity, we deploy it in the right way to help other people out. Currently, little has changed on the day to day workload but we are aware this can change at any point. We are very fortunate to have a young and hungry team who are super motivated.”

Are there any other examples of initiatives Triple Point have undertaken to preserve culture and engage a remote workforce?

Yes, we are trialling all sorts of different initiatives to keep things fresh and interesting. There is an interactive ‘e-wall’ where anyone in the business can post content such as messages, photos and quizzes. The investment team speak daily at 9am via Zoom and then we also have a firm-wide Zoom session towards the end of the week. During this session we break out into groups of four people to talk about the week and have a general chat – the idea being that we are trying to replicate what would typically happen at the end of the week in the office where people mingle and chat. This keeps communication bubbling away. In the investment team we also have a Thursday night social via video conference. Typically, this consists of a couple of drinks and a quiz or game. Articulate is on the agenda this week.” 

How are you affected by the Covid-19 crisis and what have you found most challenging? 

“From an internal workforce perspective, the Managing Partners have been keeping the rest of the business in the loop, giving an honest assessment of the commercial impact as the situation evolves. The view here is that it is important to be pragmatic about the situation, but we are in good shape as a business. The biggest change and challenge has undoubtedly been the whole business working remotely and making sure everyone is properly equipped to perform their roles. We both also have young families and so it has been a challenge juggling work and home life but there is an accommodating and supportive business culture here, which makes a big difference.”

Finally, what key learnings do you think you will take away from this period?

“From a leadership perspective, the power of open and transparent communication from senior management is very clear. In general terms, this period has reinforced what a great culture we have at Triple Point. The team have proven to be very adaptable and have risen to the challenge in every way. We think we will look back on this period as a time that was formative for the business and the evolution of our culture. It is going to be fascinating to see if this experience accelerates our move to more agile working practices and in turn whether this will drive a greater move towards social impact and sustainability in business.  On a practical level, it has made us realise that we probably don’t need as much office and desk space as we previously thought! We have never hot desked and this may be an idea for consideration. Finally, it has been a great opportunity to trial and adopt different software: a majority of the business had never used either Zoom or Microsoft Teams until recently.”

Thank you to Max and Freddie for kindly giving up their time to provide us with these insights.