Olympic Profile: Andrew Lindsay, GS Alumnus

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Andrew Lindsay worked at Goldman Sachs from 2001 to 2003 in the Investment Banking Division. He won the gold medal for the Men’s Eight as part of the UK rowing crew at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

Q: What it was like starting out at the firm after winning the Gold?

Andrew: I joined as an analyst in the UK M&A team in London in January 2001, four or five months after the Olympics. I had a pretty good baptism by fire of trying to catch up with the rest of the analyst class from that year who were four or five months in and had been to the States for training.

But because I had come from this position of effectively winning the Olympics, and because of the sports culture that I’d experienced, I wasn't afraid of putting my neck out and asking questions. It served me well in that I wasn't shy of asking somebody at the top what was going on.

Q: How did your athletic experiences help shape you as a business leader?

Andrew: You know, we had an amazing culture in our crew. Every single topic was up for debate. You could ask what you liked, and there was no sense of, "Am I being stupid asking this question?" We were encouraged to recognize the common goal, and there were no individual agendas.

To replicate that in business, you've got to have a leader to create the goal. As a business leader, creating the shared vision is the hardest thing and the first step.

It's easier in a sporting competition, since there's going to be an Olympic final on a particular date. It's a long-term, clear goal with stepping stones of winning other races on the way. In business, you tend to have shorter-term goals. Getting the team dynamic right so the sum of the parts is greater than the value of the individuals is a hard challenge.

Q: What did you take away from your Olympic experience?

Andrew: It’s interesting that at the 2000 Olympics, as a crew, we were actually one of the weakest physically in the finals, but we approached it from a team perspective. We approached it from an efficiency perspective. I'd say that we were the clever guys, and the other guys were the strong guys. The clever guys won and the big guys didn’t.

Also, I think it’s important to recognize that you can achieve whatever you want in life if you're determined and you commit to it. If you're committed, you can take control and steer your life in the direction that you want. Most people in the world don't really get that. They don't have the self-confidence to believe that they can dictate their future.

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