James Harding


BSc Biology, 1996
Executive Director, Quilter Cheviot Investment Management



    • How did you find your time at Queen Mary?
      I spent most of my time between the Life Sciences building, The Drapers Bar, E1 and the rugby pitch but not necessarily in that order. The canal side halls were only just being built so most of us lived off campus and my first year was all the way out in Maurice Hall, South Woodford (tower blocks that leant out over the North Circular). I had several character building periods during my 3 years but most of the time it was a blast. I also had to juggle playing rugby for Wasps over in West London which meant I spent a lot of time on the Underground late at night, trying to go through my revision books or more likely catching up on sleep. We were regulars on the N25 night bus back to South Woodford.
    • What did you gain from your time at Queen Mary?
      Outside of my degree the greatest gain for me was lifelong friendships and my darling wife, Laura (nee Shelford, Environmental Science ‘96).  We had an incredible three year intake that just seemed to click. Overall the diverse nature of the student body leant itself to understanding many ways of life and participating in a host of opportunities if you were minded to give things a go!
    • What, in your opinion, makes Queen Mary special?
      The Academic staff were superb at the time. Each year Queen Mary came out a little higher in the league table and the student body felt part of that. Facilities were being improved all the time and we saw the Biomedical Sciences block built and Bart & The London med students start their pre-clinical on campus. Following the progress over the last year the evolution continues and now provides top end learning and facilities across the board in the most fantastic city. A wonderful life experience for any school leaver wanting to succeed in life.
    • How have your studies at Queen Mary helped or influenced your career?
      Not many people would associate a degree in Biology as a natural precursor to stockbroking however you would be surprised at the overlap when studying analytical data and taking into account variables when considering an outcome. I don’t see many
    • How did you get into the job that you are doing now?
      I spent a couple of years working for PA Consulting in Victoria before moving to the IT department of a well-respected stockbroking firm. A couple of years later, a number of industry exams and a lot of hard work and I got my break into the front office as an assistant investment manager. I now manage over £200m of client money on a discretionary basis.
    • What have been the most interesting and challenging aspects of your job so far?
      I find the interaction with clients and the fact that no two days in the stockmarket are the same the most interesting. The crashes of 2001-2 and 2008 proved very challenging, however, most of my clients invest for the longer term and were able to sit tight. No one likes to see values go down but a fall is only a problem if you have to sell, otherwise you ride it out.
    • What do you do when you are not at work?
      Laura and I still have a young family; Isobel (9), Amelia (7) and Harry (3) so most of our spare time revolves around them, however, I am fitting in a quick trip to the North Pole to play a charity rugby match for Wooden Spoon. It’s only been 18 months in the planning!
    • Are you in touch with any alumni from your year?
      Many of our closest friends come from University, including our best man and a host of the kid’s Godparents. We all stayed in London after graduation and house shared in good cheap East End properties, finding jobs within the City or further afield; apart from Laura who did a ski season before coming back and sweeping me off my feet.
    • Your plans for the future:
      Short term future is bleak and cold as I head out for the North Pole on 15th April. Once triumphantly home as a Guinness World Record holder (hopefully) my plans include hot showers, renovating the house we recently moved into and persuading the kids that I’m not a complete numpty at everything technological.

L-R: Jock Wishart, James Harding, Tim Stimpson