The Big 5: Flavors of Personality Theory and Values at AlphaSights

AlphaSights has a set of core values.  Throughout the application process, in both recruitment and interviews, there was a heavy emphasis placed on these five values.  Once arriving to the office, I noticed that these values are displayed on the walls, emphasized in training, and even present in Alphasights’ branded notebooks.  When reflecting on these five values, I cannot help but wonder if they were modeled directly after The Big 5, a core aspect Dominant Personality Theory studied in Theories and Models. The five factor model (FFM) has been studied time and time again by various scholars, and it has been concluded by many that using FFM in job selection tends to yield better results than not.

Given that the type of work done at AlphaSights is quite unique and niche, the emphasis throughout selection process was not the technical aspect of the job, but rather the soft skills/core values that would be necessary in order to be successful and master the technical aspect.  These five core values include drive, humility, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and drive.  The personality traits in the FFM include conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness neuroticism, and extroversion.

In comparing these two sets of five values, there are quite a number of parallels.  According to McCrae and Costa (1987), conscientiousness is the “will to achieve, responsibility” which correlates quite closely with drive, or “set ambitious goals and push through obstacles to achieve them” (AS website).  Perhaps humility and adaptability go hand in hand with openness and agreeableness; “open to new experiences” and “compassionate” (McCrae & Costa) translates to “handling uncertainty, ambiguity, and change with confidence, positivity, and poise”  (AS website).  Neuroticism, or “emotional control” correlates quite clearly with “emotional intelligence” on a certain level, but interestingly enough its description on the company website also correlates quite strongly with that of extraversion, the last of the traits in the FFM.  Emotional intelligence on Alphasights’ website is about “developing and maintaining strong, trusted relationships,” given that people are the foundation of the business.  Those who exhibit EQ at AS are “inherently empathetic about others and their experiences” and “successfully engage with people across industries and levels (AS website). This description sounds quite similar to extraversion and social adaptability, as there is a focus on the understanding the emotions of others, beyond one’s one self-awareness and introspectivity.

It is interesting to see how these conventional, universal traits align quite closely with AlphaSights company values, and how these versatile traits and skills are framed to be more  company-specific.  It may also yield the question: Are these five traits enough to truly succeed at the company?  What is the “right” balance between exhibiting these five different values?