Top Workplaces 2015:

It's easier to make a difference in Smalltimore

Column: The opportunity to become involved, and to make a difference, is one of our city's greatest assets.

On a recent fall Wednesday, the weather in Baltimore was beautiful and, as I sat inside a meeting at our office in Fells Point, I noticed that the Pride of Baltimore II was sailing by. I recall thinking that it could not be a nicer place to work.

But building a great workplace is about a lot more than a wonderful location — which for Brown Advisory is a spot perched on the edge of Baltimore’s dynamic harbor.

Building a great workplace is about people — the core ingredient to any successful business.

When I think about our firm, I think about our people. I think about the names and faces of the nearly 500 individuals who comprise the Brown Advisory team — 356 of our team members are based at our Baltimore office and the rest are spread among our offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Chapel Hill, N.C., Wilmington, Del., and London.

I think about people who moved here from New York, like Stephanie McCormick, Sheryl Zhou and, recently, Adi Padva. I think about people who moved here from San Antonio, Chicago and Boston, like Christine Baranowski, Brian Dettmann and Ethan Berkwits. I think especially about young people who joined us shortly after college or graduate school, like Victor Abiamiri, Eddie Bradley, Morgan Stith and Tory Szczawinski.

So what attracted these people to an investment management business based in Baltimore? At any time, I think it is important that we understand why, but especially now.

Firms like Brown Advisory are regularly recruiting folks to Baltimore. We and many others offer folks the opportunity to join businesses that are growing rapidly and allow younger colleagues to make a difference. We recognize that young people want to make an impact at work and, importantly, in the community.

Baltimore’s “smallness” allows young people to play a role in critical community organizations at a very early age, in contrast to many larger cities, where even community involvement is very intimidating.

Our colleagues, like those at many other businesses in our region, play important roles in organizations throughout Baltimore, such as the United Way, Catholic Charities, the Boy Scouts, Paul’s Place, Civic Works and Blue Water Baltimore. I’ve enjoyed personally being involved in several organizations, including the broad-based effort to clean up Baltimore harbor.

The opportunity to become involved – and make a difference – is one of our city’s greatest assets.

For sure, there is a lot of work to do. But there is a lot of opportunity as well. As we make progress on exciting projects such as the development of EBDI north of Johns Hopkins Hospital, where real momentum has been achieved, or restoring the harbor to a “swimmable and fishable” state, we will redefine Baltimore in the eyes and ears of the national and international community.

Michael Hankin is president and CEO of Brown Advisory Inc., a Baltimore investment management firm that is in its third year on The Baltimore Sun’s Top Workplaces list. He also is actively involved in the community, serving as chairman of the Baltimore Waterfront Partership, a trustee for the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine, and board chairman of the university’s Applied Physics Laboratory. He is president of the Land Preservation Trust and a trustee of the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Chesapeake Conservancy and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation.

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