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How I started as graduate analyst at Goldman Sachs

Christina, a managing director of Goldman Sachs, joined the bank as a graduate and has seen the industry and her role constantly evolve.

My A levels were a mixture of sciences and languages and my internships were in fields unrelated to banking: consulting and purchasing. There is often a perception that to enter the investment banking profession you have to have a relevant background but this does not have to be the case. Ultimately, being successful in the recruitment process is about preparation and maximising the relevance of the experience you do have. Before applying, I had spoken to alumni and career advisers and I had completed my ‘due diligence’ on the industry. I knew that my qualities and experience were relevant to the job and my focus was to get this message across.

Joining a culture of constant learning

I was hired into a mergers and acquisitions analyst role in the investment banking division (IBD) and was first placed in our financial institutions group. I loved it. There was an apprenticeship culture, in which you could ask any questions and learn on the job; this culture still exists today. Gaining both financial and technical experience combined with the increasing client interactions was an exciting time – my biggest memory of that time is learning constantly.

Tackling something new

One of the great things about Goldman Sachs and a reason why I’ve stayed with the bank since graduating is the incredible range of opportunities you have to develop your career. I’ve never felt like I am treading water or need to leave to gain a different experience and more responsibility. The concept of ‘mobility’ is widely supported: for example, in IBD we run a programme in which graduates move to different teams after the first two years. It can be a geographical move (for example, people move from London to San Francisco or Sydney) or within the same region but to a completely different team. While change brings new challenges, of course, in the long term it provides for a new skills set; a wider experience ultimately makes for a better long-term banker.

Moving from IBD into the Executive Office provided me with a much broader understanding of the organisation and additionally helped me to expand my network. I have often drawn on what I have learned since. I moved back into IBD at a time when it was going through a period of product expansion, and I was able to take on a strategy and management role and participate in this transformation. I’ve always felt very supported when I have wanted to tackle something new or volunteer for a new challenge. It is empowering to feel like you can do so and receive encouragement from the business and your colleagues.

At times, I have had to think through the best way to manage my work/life balance. In my particular case it’s revolved around being a mother to three children and wanting to be the best parent I can be, while at the same time having a rewarding career. For me, what has worked has been to leverage what is in place to make the most of my time, so for example developments in technology mean that it has become seamless for me to work from anywhere if I choose to. However, I constantly have to prioritise and manage my time realistically to be most effective. I would say, more generally, having something outside of work is an important part of a long-term career, and in my case it has really been about my family.

Leading and learning

My current role involves focusing on a broad range of strategic and operational functions and initiatives. What I find most rewarding is the diversity of my work. My day could include preparing for and attending various committees, executing technology initiatives, working with our human capital management (HCM) division to make sure our internship programme is a success, or travelling to Bengaluru and Salt Lake City to visit our teams there. It’s a real mix of day-to-day and ad hoc work.

Due to the strategic nature of my role, I work with professionals of all seniority levels, including graduates. I find that I have learned as much from them as I have given guidance to them. It is important to continue to reassess priorities to evolve and there is no better source of fresh new ideas than from our graduates. It is also important to me to give back, and mentoring is a great way for me to do that. I see the value in it, having personally benefited from that myself.

I would describe my management style as inclusive, with an open-door policy. I focus on providing clear and constructive feedback that is geared towards helping individuals doing even better. This is something that is reflected in Goldman Sachs’ culture more broadly – there is an emphasis on receiving (and giving) continuous feedback. In actual fact, the firm only recently rolled out a new ongoing feedback system to allow for exactly that, as a supplement to our annual feedback system – it is something that I use frequently.

Sharing your passion

I attend a lot of student recruitment events because I want to share the passion I have for the organisation and the careers it has to offer. The students who stand out to me are the ones that show genuine curiosity and interest. If you join us as an intern or a graduate, do not be afraid to bring your whole self to work; we are a varied group of people. What brings us together is our passion for the job.

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