Flying back to school from New York City, William “Will” Rhind, Class of ‘96, Founder and CEO of award-winning investment company GraniteShares, joined the Robert Gordon’s College community to celebrate their founder, Robert Gordon.
Delivering the 2023 Founder’s Day Oration to junior and senior pupils, Will shared experiences along his journey from Schoolhill which included a career in investment banking and asset management. He emphasised to pupils the importance of working hard, knowing your own mind and believing in yourself.
Will said: “To get ahead, you’re going to have to work hard, and most likely harder than the people around you. You cannot achieve mastery in any skill or subject without putting in the work. Don’t look for shortcuts as there are none. In life you won’t always get things right, but it's important to be able to read the room and adapt quickly if a change needs to be made.
“One sport I was good at which I’ve come to reflect on a lot in later life is cross country running or distance running. Distance running, like all sports, requires a baseline of fitness to be successful but more importantly it requires mental toughness to stay the course. There are no teammates to cheer you on or encourage you, it's you pushing yourself and only you decide how far and how fast you can go. Life is a marathon not a sprint, and just like the long distance runner, it will require patience and resilience to be successful over the long run.
“The most important thing in life is you always keep learning and especially keep learning after school. If you’re not learning you’re not growing. Learning also means being humble enough to accept criticism from others, especially if it helps you to improve.
“Probably today more than any other time in history, we’re bombarded with certain narratives and information from all sources and all directions. It’s so important to have your own opinions and be confident enough to act accordingly.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. I can't stress enough to all of you, how important this is. If you want to get ahead in life, you must have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
“I firmly believe that this school gave me all the building blocks needed for success in life and I believe it will do the same for you too. In fact, some of my best friends in life were made at this school. While you may not necessarily appreciate it now, you have been given a huge head start in life by being able to attend this school.
“You are all living in a time of immense opportunity. Living standards and human longevity have never been higher. Technology is changing our world every day and providing with it huge opportunities. The world is more global and interconnected than it's ever been before. It's never been easier than it is today for you all to move to or work in another country. It's never been easier for you to start your own business and I hope one day some of you will.
“I challenge you all to believe in yourselves, dream big, and go out into the world and make your mark.”
Will was treated to a traditional Scottish welcome as the RGC Pipe Band delivered a powerful performance of the Founder’s Day March to welcome him through the school gates. He spoke with junior pupils in the morning at MacRobert Hall, followed by the Senior School service at St Nicholas Kirk.
The RGC Pipe Band led the Senior School procession down Schoolhill and along Back Wynd to St Nicholas Kirk. Hosting the formal proceedings, Rev Duncan Eddie welcomed the audience followed by a tribute to Robert Gordon by the Head of College, Robin Macpherson, and readings by School Captains, Lucy and Harry (S6). Will was joined by his wife and three children who travelled from New York City to be in attendance on this special day. Will is one of four children who attended Robert Gordon’s College, Edward Rhind, Class of ‘98, Catherine Rhind, Class of ‘00 and John-Henry Rhind, Class of ‘04.
Recalling Will as a pupil, former languages teacher Tom Cumming shared: “Will had a very clear idea in his sixth year about what his future career path would be. His aim was to operate his own successful company and it is wonderful to learn that he has fulfilled his dream. Will studied French and German with us, realising that to succeed in business, it is essential to have excellent communication skills not just in English, but also in other languages. I’m sure that his visits to France, Austria and Germany with the College further reinforced this. He made a wide contribution to College life on the hockey pitch, in the school ski team and in the concert band and orchestra where he played French horn. It is a pleasure to welcome him back to RGC.”
Robin Macpherson, Head of College summarised: “It was such a pleasure to have Will as our orator this year, and his incredible positivity about the future was a welcome change from so many of the negative messages that our young people receive about the current state of the world. His reflections on his time at school show how a Robert Gordon’s education can take you anywhere, and do anything. His call to ‘dream big’ is something we will repeat for a long time after his visit.”
Completing his senior school years at Robert Gordon’s College, Will followed a pathway where he continued his love of languages whilst pursuing a career in investment banking. He graduated from the University of Bath in England with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in French, Russian, Politics and Economics. His first job was with a Japanese Investment Bank in London before working in an asset management role with Barclays Bank. He was then involved in a start-up company in London and then moved to the US in 2009.
Will is the Founder and CEO of award-winning investment company GraniteShares, an entrepreneurial Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) provider focused on providing investors with innovative, cutting edge investment solutions. Backed by Bain Capital Ventures, the firm launched its first product in 2017 and is now among the fastest ETF issuers in the world with over $1.5 billion in assets under management. Will has dedicated his career to building and managing businesses in the ETF market and has held positions at firms such as iShares, World Gold Council and ETF Securities. Based in New York, Will is regularly featured in media outlets such as Fox, CNBC, Bloomberg, WSJ and Barrons.