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Is this how ‘passionate’ you have to be to work at Goldman Sachs?

In case you’re wondering how keen you have to be to work at Goldman Sachs, Alison Mass, an MD and co-head of financial sponsors at Goldman in the US, is here to elucidate.

Mass gave the inaugural speech to new arrivals at NYU Stern this year, and divulged just how much she loves her job.

First let me state the obvious: I truly love my work. I wake up excited to come to the
office each day. And yes….. I am completely sane. Look, obviously not every day is
perfect. But, you better find a job that you love, or else long term, you won’t be any good
at it and you certainly won’t have a long career.

But Mass also went out of her way to disprove the caricature of investment bankers as fast-living workaholics. She mused:

There’s an all too familiar stereotype about those who inhabit the Wall Street world -we’re all supposed to be hard driving, high-intensity people, focused solely on making itbig and retiring young. The idea of an intense, short-term career has a certain appeal for some, but I can honestly say that it never really did for me.

To me, that approach didn’t allow room for much else in my life. And over time, I’vecome to realize that the shortest path isn’t likely to be the most scenic one. I remember reading a poem about journeys and destinations, by the Greek poet Cavafy.It begins, “When you set out for Ithaka, ask that your way be long, full of adventures and knowledge.

Most excitingly, Mass appears to have achieved a balance between her work and everything else.

I typically work 70-80 hours a week. I’m also married, raising two children, I work out 3-4x per week and I make sure that I spend no less than 20 days a year on the ski slopes. I’m also on the Boards of three not-for-profit organizations in healthcare, arts and education and I still have dinner with my parents every Sunday night. (Let me repeat that for all of the Moms and Dads out there…. I still have dinner w/ my parents every Sunday night)

The weighted average week

The crux of the Mass philosophy is that it is possible to excel in all things, by reapplying the ‘weighted average cost of capital’ concept to life in order to achieve a, ‘weighted average week.’

Let me explain” (she said):

Let’s say I’m traveling to Asia for 3 – 4 days for a business meeting. On those days I have been an A+ banker, but probably haven’t been an A+ mom or an A+wife. So maybe I’ll take off work the day before my trip, spend time with my kids, drop them off and pick them up at school. And then maybe the night after I get home, I’ll go out for a dinner date with my husband and spend some one-on-one time reconnecting.

Comments (34)

  1. i can think of no other word whilst reading this than…SAD !

  2. Yeah, I owe those students an apology. Truth be told, I send her out on those gigs just to be rid of her for the odd afternoon. Me, me, me…

  3. what a load of bull…..only at a university speech can rubbish like this be palatable…..

  4. After this inaugural speech, I wonder how many dropout there will be among NYS this academic year.

  5. How many hours a week does she spend sleeping?

  6. .I wonder if her income was divided by 5 if she will still “love” it so much…

  7. Is my life “balanced” if I work 140 hour weeks and sleep 3 hours a night compared w/ my co-workers 160 hour weeks and 1 hour of sleep a day?

    Her life is perhaps relatively balanced but far from balanced.

  8. Depsite what she says her kids will grow up hating her and it wont be much longer before she is divorced. Will she still love her job then?

  9. I like the Kavafis quote (probably got it from one of her underlings who graduated recently and had time for poetry up until now… Such a nonsense article, why do we even bother giving people a forum for this nonsense?

  10. hmm. here’s one who’ll chalk up a bigger non-disclosure settlement at the divorce than Tiger Woods.
    “She’s really working 100hr weeks”

    And did we mention, GS will “pay for the legal fees”?

  11. What’s with all the venom? She sounds like she’s rocking it. Power to the lady, down with all these haters! Life is easy if you keep positive and try to enjoy being busy, instead of whinging and taking jealous potshots at people who are obviously successful. Try doing/saying something positive for once.

  12. Would she do the same for an charity on minimum wage?.I think its called greed the fall of the west and Goldman sachs shows what the west stands for and that empire is in decline.FACT

  13. Optimist mate…r u dumb or are u just playing dumb…or even worse…r u a woman??

  14. UUnet – are u, by any chance, a bloke?…even worse, do u like football and have a problem relating to women who are clearly more successful and intelligent than u? Thought so.

    Brachycephalic football loving moron killer Reply
  15. @Optimist99

    I wouldn’t call a person working 08:00-23:00 successful! A pathetic loser perhaps?

  16. @ Bill-I agree. Nothing successful about that! Bet she looks 20 years older than she is too!

  17. Wow…what an impressive way to live…to have inspiration and balance across so many areas of life. That is something to inspire – and strive for.

    But where is the balance or having it all if still working 70-80 hours week? And why is working 80 hours a week a good thing?

  18. ..I am willing to bet that this lady is the most diligent and keen employee and will moan about the smallest thing like when a powepoint presentation is not color coded correctly,but in the big picture does not really create as much value as her salary is worth.At Uni thought she was the cleverest because she was the keenest .Now she cannot beleive that everyone is not as keen as her.Point is if you so good at your job you need to work smarter not longer than everyone els

  19. She sounds nice but I have to say that being a parent is about being for your children when *they* want you, not when it happens to suit your business schedule. As for 70-80 hours/week, I used to work about 65. No thanks. Not doing that any more. 60 max from here on out and no more weekends. Life is too short.

  20. 80 hrs a week :), OMFG, what a crazy bjatch. i would not want to have her for my boss and especially not her being a female. talking about diner w/ parents and time w/ kids ridiculous, I bet her husband, provided she has one, has to schedule a bedroom time w/ her 2 weeks in advance… true, you can only sell that kind of rubbish at academic soil, because students don`t have the experience yet. I used to do about 60 and that already was aggravating, because I had totally no free time except for occasional workout and food time

    takewhatyoucangivenothingback Reply
  21. @Sue. Perfectly true. Long hours does not equal good employee, more likely the opposite, but this lady lives in her own world. A+ mum & Ithaca how dramatic, I am impressed.
    Let me share a piece of knowledge with you, my former colleague worked 8-17, trading, never more than that and his PnL line always had big figures in it… the point is that being good at something doesnt mean 80 hours a week slavery

    takewhatyoucangivenothingback Reply
  22. She’s lucky that most Uni students cannot read between the lines, otherwise the number of applicants from NYU this year should drop.

    Anyone can do the maths: if you are working 70-80 hours/week, you are sacrificing sleep and/or your weekends.

    luckily she has enough money to pay for her medical bills.

  23. Working 80 hours a week means 16 hours a day assuming she only works 5 days a week. So, she comes in a 8am and leaves at midnight ? Assuming she works 6 days a week, this means she comes at 8am and leaves around 9pm including saturday ?? If I include the sunday (how sad for an md…), this would mean 8-7pm every day of the week…..ridiculous….I am sorry but I can’t see how she can work out on top or see her children (not even her parents) unless she’s got a nanny (her children probably don’t even know their mum) or sleeps 4 hours a night….Is this leaving the dream ??? This is a nightmare for her, her husband and her kids. The only winning side is goldman of course, as usual…..

  24. 70-80 hours a week does sound a lot, but it depends on how you define ‘work’. My old boss thinks it means lunch and strip clubs.

  25. She probably just forgot to say she brings the kids with her to the boozers and stripjoints – that would make the mystery maths kiddie face time cunundrum work

    whyamireadingthis Reply
  26. Apologies for broadening the discussion out, but I’m just amused by the quotation: “When you set out for Ithaka…..”

    Odysseus set out for Ithaka after he’d been fighting a war for ten years. It took him another ten years to get home, in which time all his men were killed and he was shipwrecked, marooned, nearly drowned and entirely miserable.

    Then when he got home, a load of blokes were living in his house, trying to marry his missus and plotting to kill his son.

    Probably not quite the “…scenic path…” Ms Mass was thinking about…..

  27. Bill,

    Obviously you can not stand people who succesfully climb the investment banking ladder and they enjoy it. I bet you are on the dole.

  28. @takewhatyoucangivenothingback : 100% agree.

    Ivan Pictet, a gentleman from Pictet Private Bank in Switzerland is going to retire at 65. He said in an interview that one of his regrets is not having enough time with his children.

    I guess she’ll think of all about this when she’ll retire. I’m not quite sure that her point of view will be the same at 65.

  29. @Szentmihalyi

    FYI, I climbed the City IB ladder but the only think I enjoyed was my compensation.

  30. Classicist,

    This is clearly a metaphor. The more passionate you are about your goals and the harder you try to achieve them, the better you feel when your efforts finally lead to a succesful conclusion. As an IB leader I can see the similarities between the challenges I encounter and Odysseus’s journey to his homeland. I get so excited when I succeed (and I always do) I just can’t hide it…

  31. Very nice for her parents on the Sundays…
    Just how much does she get to see her children during the week ?
    I’m not saying this because she’s a woman. I’m a man. I work in Fixed Income, I still manage to have breakfast with my family everyday, and kiss my children in the evening just before they go to bed. I doubt she can do this. It’s a matter of choice. It’s very easy for her and very tempting to say loud she’s managing to do everything. But maybe if she feels the need to say it, it’s also to convince herself better…?

  32. Maybe she did a 70 hour week once and brags about it ever since

  33. It’s funny why you people bother to read these articles on the industry when you obviously fail to understand what it is that this woman does and why she works 70-80 hours a week

  34. My life this is bull, and coming from a Goldman Banker as well. This is the firm that works you into the ground.

    Laughable that anyone would swallow this crap.

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