Arno Kitts (1967-1981)
My career success can be traced back to roots in my free education at Bolton School. I work for BlackRock, a leading investment manager, where I am responsible for the UK institutional business, which looks after some £260 billion for pension clients. My role encompasses client relationship management and general business management.
My career path to my current role was indirect. I studied Mathematics & Actuarial Studies at Southampton University and stayed on to do a PhD in Social Statistics, and then stayed on another year as a Research Fellow. I worked for eight years at a small insurance company, starting as an investment analyst, and enjoying fairly rapid promotion to become Head of Investments, then Chief Operating Officer, and finally UK Group Chief Executive by the time I was 30. My early exposure to business strategy and management has proved to be very valuable. From there I moved to JP Morgan where my role transitioned from establishing and running insurance businesses to institutional investment businesses. After five years at JP Morgan I worked for Henderson for 10 years, before joining BlackRock in 2012.
Over the years, I have interested myself and become involved in industry matters, including the following roles: Actuaries Profession Council member; National Association of Pension Funds Board Director and Investment Council Chairman; Hedge Fund Standards Board member representative; and Investment Association Institutional Business Committee member. It would be fair to say that my career has required considerable commitment over many years, so lifestyle choices have been difficult at times – long hours, extensive travel, working away from home, etc.
Outside work, I enjoy spending time and travelling with the family, I do a lot of investment reading and research, and I enjoy a few toys – motorcycling, flying, and motor boating. I am married and we have a daughter preparing for her A Levels and then having a gap year, and we live in Hampshire, in a lovely old vicarage that we have restored and refurbished.
What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
My parents thought that education and qualifications were very important, and that Bolton School was the best in the area. My father was Dutch and my mother is Austrian, and they moved to the area a few months after I was born in The Hague in the Netherlands. My older brother and I attended Beech House Infants School and then Park Road Junior School. I consider myself to have been very fortunate to have been granted a free place to join my brother at Bolton School.
What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
Three fond memories stand out for me. First, I remember some of the teachers as having incredible personalities. Second, I would have to confess to considerable mischief, fortunately usually without getting caught. Finally, there were the activities outside school in the holidays and at the weekends, which were both developmental and immensely enjoyable.
Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
Mr David Frost, who was my sixth form class teacher and one of my mathematics teachers, figured out the right trigger to motivate me to work very hard for my A levels.
What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
People are motivated by responsibility and recognition. My background being different taught me the importance of being inclusive and embracing diversity. At school I learned to become self-responsible, and woke up to the fact that hard work might be needed to achieve goals. The camps and trips opened my eyes to the outside world and broadened my horizons. Also, I had a lot of fun with my friends and developed a sense of humour that has served me well.
What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
Take the time to understand yourself, to identify your key strengths and the kind of people that you will enjoy spending time and working with, and to determine what you are good at that you enjoy focusing on getting better at. Then, your life will be one of fun and learning.
What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its Bursary Fund?
I think I am an example of what genuine open access through a bursary fund might achieve. I am firmly in favour of re-establishing that genuine open access.