Abandoned by his parents when he was three, Desmond Stockdale was taken into child protection and then raised by his great aunt in an impoverished part of Bedfordshire. “I started washing cars to earn money,” he says. “By the time I was 10, I was paying for school uniforms and holidays.”

Stockdale self-funded his way through university and started his first financial technology consultancy when he was 23. He’s now running Phi Partners International, employing 500 people worldwide.

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I love what I do but it’s a means to an end. My wife and I have five kids and our dream is to open an orphanage.”

Desmond Stockdale
Founder, Phi Partners


How do you find top talent? 

We have a two-year graduate programme at Phi Partners and we only take graduates in maths, computer science and economics from the top Ivy League and Russell Group universities. We train people well, pay them well and promote them. Our attrition rate last year was 4 per cent, which is tiny.

Describe your company culture?

We employ 500 people across offices in London, Dubai and New York, plus four nearshore centres in Bucharest, Sofia, Casablanca and Nicosia. It’s a culture of hard work but we give people enough room to fail: the faster they fail, the quicker they learn. We have a very light-touch management style and zero politics. That’s the great thing about maths; there’s no subjectivity!

What’s your own personal ambition?

My ambition has never been about company size, revenues or profits. My wife and I have five kids and we’d eventually like to use our time, experience and love to acquire a large estate in the UK and convert it into a home for around 12-18 orphans, with sports facilities and an art studio. I think my wife and I have a strong set of values and morals, and can create a really supportive environment for children who don’t have the best start in life.