Journalist Gillian Tett Takes an Anthropological Look at Business
| May 23, 2022 | Michael Benigno
Before pursuing her career in journalism, British author and Financial Times’ editor Gillian Tett studied anthropology, living for a time in Tajikistan in the former Soviet Union where she conducted field research for her doctorate. More than a decade later at an investment banking conference, she made an interesting connection: the “rituals” of networking in a business meeting are identical to those at a Tajikistani wedding.
Throughout her career, the accomplished journalist—now the Financial Times’ chair of the editorial board and U.S. editor-at-large—has applied an anthropological lens to business and finance. She discussed her insights, the subject of her recent book, Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life, in a recent Gabelli School Centennial Speaker Series event, co-sponsored with the CFA Society New York, the Gabelli Center for Global Security Analysis, and the Museum of American Finance.
Tett explained that breaking out of our “tribes,” or social groups, and examining the environment and culture around us is key to understanding our place in the world. When the same is applied to business, it can yield positive results and ultimately, greater success.
“Tech companies realized that it was kind of dumb to design all their products according to what a 25-year-old Silicon Valley man might like, when a lot of consumers were sitting outside of the Silicon Valley and weren’t 25-year-old men,” Tett said. “You can’t not have beliefs, but you need to think about your beliefs, and think about others.”