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An insight into what it’s like to work at Goldman Sachs’ expanding Salt Lake City office

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Banks facing cost pressures are doing a number of things to limit operational expenses. Perhaps the most effective is moving some operations to lower-cost locales outside of cities like New York, London and Singapore. For Goldman Sachs, its new alternative U.S. hub has effectively become Salt Lake City, Utah.

But the New York bank says that headcount growth in Salt Lake – from just a couple hundred employees a few years ago to roughly 1,800 currently – isn’t just about cost savings. It’s about creating a larger footprint that gives the firm round-the-clock global coverage, among other things. And Goldman’s hiring plans there haven’t changed — they’re still adding staff strategically.

We talked to Danielle Pallin, Goldman’s vice president in human capital management in Salt Lake City, to get a better idea of the office’s growth plans and what it’s really like to live and work in Utah’s capital city. Here’s what she said.

There are plenty of lower cost locales out there. Why Salt Lake City?

There are three main reasons. The first is talent. We find highly-skilled employees in Utah who speak multiple languages and who have a global mindset. Roughly 50% of our employees in Salt Lake City speak at least two languages, and there are more than 70 languages spoken. We feel we’ve become an employer of choice in Utah, allowing us to attract high caliber candidates, so we continue to hire.

The second is that Salt Lake also feeds into our “follow the sun” model. We can close our day right as Asia opens theirs.  The geographic separation from New York enables seamless business continuity.

The third is we have strong state and local relationships, and a local community that is very supportive of our growth and the meaningful role we play in the economic and job growth in Salt Lake City.  Employees can often build and contribute more here than in a larger city.

Tell us about your hiring plans. Of the nine sectors represented in Salt Lake, which is the hottest?

We are really growing equally across all of them, particularly this year. Our interest in growing Salt Lake is still a priority. We have roughly 1,800 employees right now, and we’ll continue to grow strategically. We’ll split our hiring focus fairly evenly between local, out-of-state and global candidates.

In your opinion, what are some of the misconceptions people have with Salt Lake City and the office in general?

With respect to the office, people are afraid if they are hired in a non-core office they won’t have any connection to the major hubs. That’s simply not true. Salt Lake City employees do plenty of traveling, and our video conferencing rooms are always booked. Employees get as much if not more visibility with senior leaders here as they do in New York. We have 14 Managing Directors here who oversee businesses and have global insight.

In terms of broader misconceptions, Utah is not just about the mountains – there’s plenty to do in the valley. People come and are surprised to find arts, shopping and a nightlife. The difference is: in New York, it’s in your face, you walk out the door and it’s right there. In Salt Lake City, you need to look for it. It’s new, but it’s exciting because it’s new. If you like building things, you’ll love it here.

I’m an East-coaster who moved here in 2008 and admittedly only expected to stay a couple years. Culturally, things have changed exponentially since then. There are great restaurants, architecture and a booming art scene. You just need to look for it and support it.

Tell us a little bit about the interview process for out-of-state candidates.

For out-of-state candidates, we do phone screens, video interviews and will fly them out to meet with us personally. If they are near a Goldman office, we’ll often have them go in personally and use our video conferencing equipment. But we feel it is very important for people to have some experience with Salt Lake City before they move here.

How often do you hire locally compared to bringing in out-of-state recruits or transferring people from other hubs?

It’s a balanced mix of the three. We actively source local talent and have great relationships with local schools like BYU and the University of Utah.  We also go to several out of state schools, and have moved a lot of employees from other GS offices as well.  We make every effort to recruit the best talent for every job. Employees here need to provide creative solutions so we need a dynamic workforce. We draw from a broad pool – from people all over the world.

Do you run annual analyst programs like they do in New York and London?

The nature of the program varies by division but all divisions hire analysts in Salt Lake City.

Can you speak generally about compensation and the cost-of-living versus say New York?

We always look at the market value of roles. Wherever we are, we are competitive. Our employees here are compensated well and live a great lifestyle.

What is the physical layout of the office like versus New York?

The office in Salt Lake City compared to New York is almost exactly the same, even down to the desks, the chairs and the paint color.

For more on Goldman Sachs and Salt Lake City in general, check out our recent expose.

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