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Alexander Gordon-Brown

Quantitative trader

Alexander first encountered the ideas of effective altruism back in 2010, before it even had a name. He heard an interview with Toby Ord, an Oxford University Professor, on the Daily Politics, advocating for a charity he had founded called Giving What We Can. Toby had pledged most of his lifetime income to effective charities, and was encouraging others to donate at least 10% of theirs. Alex saw the truth in the ethical reasoning behind donating to help others, but says he didn't expect the idea to catch on beyond small circles of academics.

A few years later Alex revisited Giving What We Can and was delighted to see he'd been proved wrong. The community had gathered several hundred members who had each agreed to donate at least 10% of their lifetime incomes, and at this point Alex and another friend decided to sign up too; in fact, Alex committed to giving away over half of his own income. Whilst the ideas behind effective altruism had seemed fairly obvious to Alex from the beginning, it was another thing to discover a community of people who were actually living by those ideals.

In terms of his own career, Alex was already on the trajectory of being a quantitative trader when he started learning more about effective altruism. However, interacting with the careers advisors at 80,000 hours did help him to solidify his will to go down this route, and his commitment to donate acts as an ongoing motivator in his work. So far, he has focussed his donations on global poverty organisations as well as charities working within effective altruism. In the future he plans to continue using his resources towards the overall goal of leaving the world better off than he found it.