Whenever a hedge fund is mentioned, it is easy to imagine a bunch of uptight analysts in mid-town wearing $1,000 Suits, which were made in the same Chinese factory as the $150 Suits sold at Macy’s. However, picturing these analysts in a countryside or in a rural setup is much more difficult. But that is where Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates has made its home for more than three decades now.
Bridgewater Associates, the $120 billion hedge fund, has over 13oo employees in a set of five buildings in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The firm was covered in Pension & Investments’ Best Places to Work Survey and ranked third among firms with more than 1000 employees. Bridgewater provides its employees with a series of recreational facilities that are available on-campus. The firm benefits from its unique location and arranges an equally unique competition that involves a swimming, scrabbling and running race (nicknamed SCRUM). The race circles around the parks and ponds that surround the Bridgewater buildings. The winner of the 100 participants race brings home the winner’s-name-encrusted SCRUM cup and two open destination air tickets. Interestingly, SCRUM cup is the only shiny piece of metal displayed in the head-quarter’s lobby, all hedge fund awards are secondary.
Other than the much awaited SCRUM event, Bridgewater also arranges seasonal picnics, festive holiday parties, chess competitions and physical sports including, Soccer, Tennis, and Softball. If that is not enough, Bridgewater also hosts an annual talent show where the proud employees display their uncommon skills. The company also provides transportation to city areas via buses and trains. Recreation facilities include, gyms, meditation rooms, free breakfasts, and special rooms for employees who want to work late.
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The survey portrays the firm as a place bonded by strong collaboration and concrete work principles. Ray Dalio’s ‘principles’ are a kind of Holy Grail around Bridgewater. The Principles are is a series of guidelines that aim to incite excellence, improvement, innovation and independence among the employees. The survey calls Bridgewater’s employees ‘passionately loyal’ to the company and their job.
The firm aims to create an environment where people are open about their ideas and tolerant of what others have to say.
“There can be tough moments when you have to say something negative to someone face to face,” said Karen Karniol-Tambour, an investment associate at Bridgewater. “But because we all are on the same team, we owe it to each other to talk about these issues. There is a real sense that we’re all on the same mission.”