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How to succeed at Goldman Sachs

Dina Habib Powell

If you want to make it to the top of Goldman Sachs, you’ll need to be a dedicated team player ready to subjugate yourself to the whims of the firm. Right? Not exactly. While these qualities will surely smooth your passage to the executive suite, Vanity Fair’s new profiles of some of the Goldmanites in the Trump administration, suggest something extra is necessary too.

In the case of ex-Goldman COO Gary Cohn, this extra something appears to be an ability to speak extremely bluntly whilst still being liked and respected. In the words of one former Goldman Sachs board member, Cohn is “straightforward…he’s right from the brain to the mouth.” Cohn, who’s dyslexic, gets away with this because he’s also, “unusually bright,” and gifted with extraordinary concentration: “He’s never read a five-page memo in his life, but when he asks you to describe something to him he pays incredible attention and remembers every word,” said Robert Steel, an ex-Goldman Partner who’s now CEO of Perella Weinberg.

If Cohn speaks bluntly, Steel says it’s never with the intention of deprecating other people. And if Cohn’s got a “strong character,” he also kind and solid. “He has nice kids, one wife. He’s not obnoxious. He looks you in the eye. I’ve never heard him say a single thing derogatory about anybody.”

When it comes to Dina Habib Powell, the former global head of corporate engagement at Goldman, who’s now helping Trump promote the rights of women, the special something seems a little less meritorious. The GS people who spoke to Vanity Fair, said Habib Powell has a special talent for making her superiors think she’s special. “Her gift is that she’s incredibly politically astute,” said one former Goldman Partner. “She is an incredible worker of people and relationships, and she is that type of person where, if you come into the room and Dina wants to make you feel like you’re important or whatever, you are going to feel it.” Another former GS colleague said Powell, “can manage up better than anybody I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” and that she is therefore able to make the people she works for think she’s, “unbelievably good and competent ” at what she does.

Former Goldman colleagues who didn’t feel the full force of Powell’s charm seem skeptical that this is the case (one describes her knowledge of finance as “content lite”), but Powell has convinced the people that matter. Lloyd Blankfein was and is a big fan. “You’re going to find she’s going to be a very big, positive surprise to you. You’re going to find out that you end up counting on her for much more than you could imagine,” he reportedly told Trump when Powell left GS.

Separately, don’t cross Deutsche Bank. For the German bank bears a grudge. The Financial Times reports that Deutsche “shunned” UBS when it chose banks to help with its recent €8bn rights issue. UBS played a lead role in Deutsche’s 2014 capital raising, but this time around it was excluded altogether. The reason appears to be staff poaching: UBS has been “aggressive” in its recruiting for Deutsche’s wealth managers in Asia. John Cryan’s not going to let that go.

Meanwhile:

Stephen Pierce, Goldman Sachs’ global head of equity capital markets is retiring after 31 years with the firm. (NY Times) 

Deutsche Bank was going to hire Rob Allard, a former Deutsche Bank executive who ran the structured product sales team before moving to Goldman Sachs in 2008. Weirdly, it pulled Allard’s offer at the last moment and no one knows why. (Business Insider) 

Are you a European banker working in the City of London? The British government proposes to divide EU citizens into one of these three groups. (Bloomberg) 

Nomura wants to charge clients $134k a year to access their favourite analysts. (Bloomberg) 

Deep learning models in finance. (SiNews)  

There will not be actual quantum computers until 2027. (New Scientist) 

Google’s AI fund just invested in Algorithmia, a marketplace and enterprise solution that allows developers to easily tap into its catalog of 3,500 algorithms, functions and machine-learning models. (TechCrunch) 

Working your ass off isn’t bleak. Provided there’s a purpose, sprinting at an unsustainable pace is an act of tremendous optimism. (ShyamSankar)

Visa wants to hire a BlockChain engineer who is “experienced with Ethereum and blockchain architecture to be a part of team tasked with building distributed application.”.Total Industry experience must be 8+ years, which is about twice as long as Ethereum has been in existence. (ZeroHedge) 

Can you solve this? BZ R UNIACEM VY XRGMPZXX KW OK BHWIYRBVCM, VZ VUEVBZ TFJW OK BHKMYRBAVVG. (Goldman Sachs) 


Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com

Photo credit: Dina Habib Powell, Head, Impact Investing Business, Goldman Sachs; President, Goldman Sachs Foundation by Chatham House is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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