As any New Yorker will relate, office life and culture will be permanently altered by the coronavirus pandemic. In the short term, many workers nationwide are, in jumps and starts, reacquainting themselves with best practices for everything from water cooler talk to board room presentation skills. In the long term, some managers and executives are re-thinking the need for physical office space at all. One of the best ways to reevaluate what business success means and to refocus is, interestingly, to look at past success. Looking at a hedge fund like Highbridge Capital Management and co-founder Glenn Dubin can help New Yorkers (and those in other areas) to redefine success and look to the future.
While not all businesses are suddenly going to remain remote, the moment is clearly one where norms are in flux. This presents an opportunity to make meaningful changes: not just to combat the isolation of the pandemic, but also to engineer new positive outcomes.
However, this is easier said than done. There are as many theories of corporate culture as there are corporations — and perhaps more. Should workers be inspired by their boss and spend 70+ hours a week at their desk? Or should they wear jeans to work and sip microbrews in the office lounge? Certainly, business leaders like Glenn Dubin are grappling with these issues now, more than ever before, and trying to strike the right balance for their workers and companies.
Looking past the obvious answer — that different businesses have different needs — one of the best ways to answer these questions is to look at past success stories. This case study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business Review examines a company co-founded by Glenn Dubin, Highbridge Capital Management; this asset manager served for years as a benchmark institution for many on Wall Street. The firm also had a storied culture of success, one that brought together talented individuals to collaborate in a field famous for infighting.
Glenn Dubin, co-founder of the firm, has some insightful quotes that illustrate the culture he sought to build. It is a welcome reminder that, in many ways, culture is set at the top. And for all the (pre-pandemic) talk of floor plan layouts and institutions, culture is still mostly driven by people and the particular.
Certainly, reading the entire abstract can offer great insights to businesses moving forward. Some of the key take-aways are helpful as well. Founded by Glenn Dubin and Henry Swieca, Highbridge Capital Management, as described by the abstract “was known by many on Wall Street as a “benchmark,” largely due to the firm’s investment performance and to the diversity and dynamism of the organization. Investors had come to rely on Highbridge’s consistent returns and attention to risk management. The firm comprised a group of gifted, committed professionals as a result of Glenn Dubin’s longtime focus on talent, nurturing a culture of collaboration, building a sophisticated risk management and technology platform, and maintaining a robust operating infrastructure.”
In 2010, Dubin described the impact he hoped his culture would have on the continued success of the company after it was purchased by J.P. Morgan. As the abstract explains, Glenn Dubin said,
“I hope that my legacy will be a bigger and more diversified Highbridge–but one that has the same culture and core principles of excellence, staffed with individuals with high integrity and an interest in successful collaboration.”
Looking at this example, and many others, certainly allows New York business leaders to focus in on the essential ingredients to business success. And those ingredients appear to be more about the caliber of the team and the tools they use rather than the desk where they sit.