What Goldman Sachs Seeks In MBA Hires

Desmaris with prospective Goldman Sachs employee

Desmaris with prospective Goldman Sachs employee

The final thing I’d say is that the work that we do is not contained to any one particular segment of an industry. The work that you do here does have a global impact. It can impact the economy on a global basis. We’re not contained or restricted to one industry just because we happen to be in the financial services industry. For example, we worked with a company called Mobileye which discovered a way to bring artificial intelligence to automotive safety. Goldman Sachs saw the potential early on, helping them raise capital through a strategic investment and later, the largest IPO for an Israeli Company in the U.S.

[One more thing]: There are a lot of technical aspects of our industry. Because it’s technical doesn’t mean it’s opaque…but it’s not an industry that is intuitive to most people. What some don’t understand is that the work done here impacts their lives in a lot of different ways they don’t attribute to our industry.  For example, when DC Water needed to finance its Clean Rivers Project, Goldman Sachs helped structure a first-of-its-kind financing solution. The DC Clean Rivers Project will help restore and protect the ecosystems and biodiversity in and around the waterways of Washington D.C. To help finance the project, DC Water worked with Goldman Sachs to identify a truly innovative solution—the Century “Green” Bond—which raised $350 million. DC Water became the first municipal water utility to issue a bond that would mature in 100 years, and the first company to issue a Green Bond with an independent opinion in the U.S. market, which was particularly appealing to sustainably-oriented investors.

What are your expectations for entry level MBAs? What are your most successful new hires doing to hit the ground running and quickly add value? 

I think the people who integrate most successfully are those who have had proven experience in working collaboratively in a team environment. They are self-starters and they are passionate about what they’re doing. They should have a desire to innovate and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced and a continuously-changing environment. They have to possess that agility and nimbleness. Our culture is, I believe, one of the things that really differentiate us. The expectation of all new joiners is that they are going to contribute right away. By contribute, we mean thought leadership as well as putting in the hard work.

Those who are successful are the ones who possess those attributes. Because they have the opportunity to have a voice early on in their career – and if they’re thoughtful about how they use that – they’re going to be very successful.

Banking, fair or not, has a reputation for being a deeply competitive, around-the-clock enterprise. At the same time, the Millennial generation has been increasingly drawn to work where they feel that they can make an impact, do good, and find balance in their lives. If you were recruiting a highly talented MBA who prioritizes making a difference and helping others, how would you show them that working for Goldman Sachs enables them to do exactly that?

I’m glad that you’re asking that question because personally this is one of the things I’m most proud of as having been a Goldman employee for the last 14 years. Goldman Sachs is deeply involved in the communities in which we work and the values of community involvement and philanthropy are knitted into the fabric of our culture.

Community Teamworks volunteer

Community Teamworks volunteer

An example would be annually, we run a program called Community Teamworks and this will be entering its 20th year, so it’s not something that we just started doing. Our Community Teamworks program is a day of community service that every Goldman employee takes as a paid day off to go give back to our communities. As a global company, as you can imagine, we have a pretty broad reach with the ability to do that and participation in this program is close to 100%. That’s a program we’re really proud of.

In addition to that, we have some other programs like 10,000 Small Businesses, which gives business education and access to capital to small business owners in the United States.  We’ve had 5,700 small business owners who’ve graduated from that program who are learning how they can grow their businesses and create jobs, which stimulates the economy.  Many Goldman Sachs professionals volunteer their time and skills to help mentor these entrepreneurs. Similarly our employees volunteer with our global 10,000 Women program.

In addition to the programs that have been designed to give back to the community, the work that an MBA hire does on a day-to-day basis contributes to the growth of the overall economy. For example, the firm’s total capital investment of over $300 million dollars provided financing for developers in the New Orleans area to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. An MBA might help structure a deal there to build affordable housing or retail to provide fresh food to the city. Another example of a client project that we certainly had recent MBA hires work on was the financing of Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. That helped further economic development in that area, first off by creating construction jobs and providing employment opportunities for the foreseeable future.

Those are some of the large scale projects, real work, that again may not be intuitive to think, ‘Oh, Goldman Sachs was involved in that.’ But those are things that not only improve and make an impact today, but continue to pay dividends for years to come. As an MBA hire, you have a chance to be part of that positive forward progress.

At business schools like Harvard and Columbia, the appeal of investment banking has been declining. Some attribute this to the increasing allure of Silicon Valley (along with areas like entrepreneurship, technology, and sustainable enterprise). Do you see financial recruiting of MBA graduates ever bouncing back to pre-2009 levels?

We have seen a steady increase over the past several years of interest within our industry. You mentioned earlier that there are competitive pressures from a number of competitors outside of directly financial services. Post financial crisis, I think it took a period of time for us to make sure that the narrative around careers at Goldman Sachs was a narrative that was accurate, but we have seen an uptick in applications post financial crisis.

The number of candidates who have applied has continued to increase. And we certainly have far more qualified candidates than we can actually accommodate with full-time roles or internships. We’re looking to make sure that this interest continues on the upside and continues to increase.

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