Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Wharton | Mr. Data Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 7.76/10
IU Kelley | Ms. Marketing Manager
GRE 294, GPA 2.5
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Consulting Analyst
GMAT 700, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Hopeful CXO
GMAT 750, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred MBA
GMAT 760, GPA 3.82
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Hotel International
GMAT 570, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewable Energy Investing
GMAT 740, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Bangladeshi Analyst
GMAT 690, GPA 3.31
Harvard | Ms. JMZ
GMAT 750, GPA 3.47
Foster School of Business | Mr. CPG Tech
GMAT 770, GPA 2.9
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Midwest Startup
GRE 328, GPA 3.51
Yale | Mr. Fencer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.48
INSEAD | Mr. Indian In Cambodia
GMAT 730, GPA 3.33
Tuck | Mr. South African FinTech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.08
London Business School | Mr. Indian Electric Tech
GMAT 620, GPA 3.5
MIT Sloan | Mr. Semiconductor Engineer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.68
NYU Stern | Mr. Bioinformatics
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
NYU Stern | Mr. Long Shot
GRE 303, GPA 2.75
Wharton | Ms. Ultimate Frisbee
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Columbia | Mr. Worker Bee
GMAT 710, GPA 3.56
Yale | Mr. Environmental Sustainability
GRE 326, GPA 3.733
Tuck | Mr. Recreational Pilot
GRE 326, GPA 3.99
Kellogg | Mr. Sales Engineer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.00
Yale | Mr. Project Management
GRE 310, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01

A Dean’s View of Goldman’s Mess

Darden Dean Bob Bruner chaired the globalization task force.

“…To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for…. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief…I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.”

Greg Smith, New York Times, March 14, 2012

“It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Google. During my time there I became fairly passionate about the company… The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus… From this innovation machine came strategically important products like Gmail and Chrome, products that were the result of entrepreneurship at the lowest levels of the company. Of course, such runaway innovative spirit creates some duds, and Google has had their share of those, but Google has always known how to fail fast and learn from it. In such an environment you don’t have to be part of some executive’s inner circle to succeed. You don’t have to get lucky and land on a sexy project to have a great career. Anyone with ideas or the skills to contribute could get involved. I had any number of opportunities to leave Google during this period, but it was hard to imagine a better place to work. But that was then, as the saying goes, and this is now… Truth is I’ve never been much on advertising. I don’t click on ads. When Gmail displays ads based on things I type into my email message it creeps me out….The old Google was a great place to work. The new one?”

James Whittaker, blog, March 13, 2012

“I am writing to say goodbye. Recently…a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop…was quoted as saying, “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

Andrew Lahde, Financial Times, October 17, 2008

What meaning shall we make of these letters? One of my great teachers, C. Roland Christenson, once remarked, “Professional schools are good at teaching you how to do a job, but give little attention to how to enter or exit.” Nor is there any guidebook to letting folks know what you think as you stride out the door for the last time. It’s no wonder then that the rare publication of a “parting shot” letter creates a certainfrisson in the media. Such occurred last week when the first two messages went public; the third created a stir in 2008. There was much discussion on the merits of the writers’ views (the comments on the letters are at least as entertaining as the letters themselves). But no one paused to reflect on what it takes to exit well under adverse circumstances. To what extent are dignity, grace, justice, and self-respect served by a “parting shot”?


In the interest of brevity, I‘ll leave it to the interested reader to read the full text of the three letters. From this small sample, you might conclude that if you want to write a “parting shot” that will gain attention, it should contain at least three elements:

· Grief. All three letters state how unhappy the authors are that things have changed. Greg Smith alleges that Goldman Sachs has become morally bankrupt. James Whittaker grieves that Google has lost its entrepreneurial flair and intrudes into personal privacy, and that Google+ doesn’t challenge Facebook. Andrew Lahde is unwinding his firm, having profited from a massive short position against subprime debt—that play won’t be profitable any longer.

· Loathing. The three letters brim with contempt—and as the publishers of the lurid supermarket tabloids show, contempt sells. Andrew Lahde despises the “idiots,” the “people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades,” and the Ivy League Aristocracy. Greg Smith despises traders (the Andrew Lahdes, perhaps) who disrespect their clients. And James Whittaker has issues with Larry Page and the advertisers.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.