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13 things you didn’t know about Michael Sherwood, who has just quit Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs

Michael Sherwood, vice-chairman and co-CEO of Goldman Sachs international in London is leaving. Sherwood joined Goldman Sachs when he was just 20 and was made head of debt syndicate three years later. He was promoted to partner when he was 29 and leaves after 30 years. Richard Gnodde will take over as sole CEO at Goldman in the UK.

This is what you should know about Sherwood.

1. He speaks to his mother every day

Sherwood said there’s “isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t speak to my mum”. When asked what he does to unwind, he said he was “addicted to his family.”

2. He got a look inside Goldman Sachs through “devious” means

When Sherwood was 19 he interned at SG Warburg and was “chief photocopier” on the syndicated loans desk. One of the jobs was photocopying and faxing documents to other banks. “Being devious,” he took a note of the banks and the people he needed to contact. “I didn’t know about Goldman Sachs. I’d worked as a photocopier one summer at SG Warburg. I was attached to the syndicated loans desk. There was a deal involving Fannie Mae and when it came to applying for a job I wrote to all the banks that were listed on the sheet of paper.”

3. He did his important studying early 

Sherwood completed his A-levels by aged 16. He spent a year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem before accepting a position at Manchester University and graduated at the age 20. Sherwood said he “wasn’t the best student”, but got through it. A profile by the Independent suggests he was part of a group of rich kids who went around campus driving expensive cars, living in flash accommodation and eating in top restaurants.

4. He joined Goldman Sachs at the right time 

Sherwood interned at Goldman Sachs and was offered a job. They told him he had to accept “by next Friday”. However, he was also expecting an offer from SG Warburg and called them to see if this was likely. “The person said, ‘Here at SG Warburg we make our hiring decisions on April 7 at 8pm’. I need to thank that person as it made me accept the Goldman job,” he said. At the time, there were 150 people at Goldman in London. There are over 7,000 now.

5. His first break came through tragedy

Sherwood rose up the ranks very rapidly at Goldman. He was made partner by the age of 29. However, it was when he was just three years into his job that the first very big break came. His boss at the time was onboard the jumbo jet that crashed over Lockerbie in 1988 after bomb was detonated. After his death, Sherwood was offered the job as head of syndicate at Goldman in London when he was just 23. “Most of my competitors were 35-40 years old. It was bizarre really,” he said.

6. He left Goldman Sachs for two weeks 

In 1994, after what he describes as “relentless pursuit” by a Swiss-based ultra high net worth individual who was looking to start a hedge fund in London, Sherwood quit Goldman Sachs and accepted the job after demanding “ridiculous” terms. People from Goldman started calling shortly afterwards asking if he really meant to leave, he said. In the end, his boss Mark Winkelman approached him saying that he had had a “very long holiday” and it was time to come back. He was made partner the following year.

7. He’s been thinking about leaving for years 

“I’ve been here 23 years. At the start of the year I say to my wife: ‘Just one more year.'” he said in 2008. “I’ve been saying it for seven or eight years. I’ve got two children, 13 and eight, who demand a lot of my attention and a wife who wants to see more of me.” But he admits: “I still enjoy it. I’m a BlackBerry addict. I can’t stop.”

8. He’s a very talented tennis and table tennis player

Sherwood is a little portly these days, but he has a lot of sporting prowess. He plays table tennis for an hour every week with his close friend Matthew Syed, the former British number one. He also played tennis for his school in north London as a youth and came close to making it to Wimbledon.

9. He has the trappings of a rich man, but doesn’t always enjoy them

This is from a 1993 profile from the Independent. Things might have changed: “He buys the best theatre tickets but often leaves the show early if he is bored. He eats in the best restaurants, but suffers from nerves and often cannot hold down his food.”

10. Everyone calls him ‘Woody’

The Independent says that everyone calls him Fat Mike. He insists otherwise: “Everyone calls me Woody.”

11. He unwinds by watching football

Sherwood is a fan of Tottenham Hotspur, and has a stake in the club. He also had a stint on the board of Watford FC and regularly watches soccer. “It’s a family tradition — I used to go with my dad, and now I take my kids,” he said.

12. He prides himself on being forthright

Sherwood is often described as being arrogant. He would probably say he was just being honest. “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you’ve told someone,” he said. “You have to be upfront and tell people what you want to save any pain later.”

13. He never really had a plan

Like Lloyd Blankfein, Sherwood has an ability to appear very self-effacing when asked about his career, when young graduates desperately want to hear some sage pearls of wisdom. Sherwood’s advice? Don’t plan too much. “In my experience in the industry, people who to plan their careers over multiple years are almost always disappointed. Seize the day,” he said.

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

 

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