Olympic Profile: Carlos Arena, Securities Division, New York
Carlos Arena competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta as a member of Mexico's Olympic swimming team. Carlos took part in the Men's 100m and 200m Backstroke. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1999 and is now working in New York in our Securities Division. We spoke with him about his Olympics experience.
Q: When did you start swimming and what led you to the Olympics?
Carlos: I started swimming when I was around 7 or 8 years old. My family was always around water, so at the beginning it was mainly for safety reasons. But I was talented and quickly got fast. During my teens, I went through a very tough time as everyone around me got taller and stronger, while my body took very long to evolve. Kids that I used to beat were lapping me in workouts and meets. But my goal was never to beat any of them or win a specific competition; my goal was to qualify for the Olympic Games, and I knew I had to continue training much harder and longer. My entire life was driven by that goal. Most of my extended family thought it was a hobby and questioned why my parents would allow me to sacrifice so much for it. I even decided to go to the University of Texas because of the rankings posted in Swimming World Magazine, applying as a normal student and never recruited. When I got there coach asked "Who is that guy who just showed up to school, is he fast?" Later on, I was accepted to the varsity team and during that time I swam at the Atlanta Games.
Q: How have the lessons you've learned through your career in sports translated into your career in business?
Carlos: While swimming is an individual sport, the network that supports an athlete is critical. For example, you see Michael Phelps swimming on his own but what's important and necessary for his success are all of the efforts of his coaches, family and teammates. It's similar to what we do at Goldman Sachs. There might be one person doing the pitch, but that person cannot do it on their own. You need support from the entire team to move yourself and the firm forward.
Q: What is your favorite memory of the Games?
Carlos: My best memory is from the opening ceremony. My family and friends had come to Atlanta to watch. I knew they were somewhere in the stadium and asked them to look for me. But as I walked around the track, I saw a Mexican flag at the distance which ended up being them. So I stood there taking pictures while people from other countries kept walking past me. After all the efforts over all those years, these were the people who had supported me unconditionally. We were finally there, together.
Q: What advice would you like to share?
Carlos: It's important to dream big. Sometimes goals appear to be unobtainable, but if you've worked hard, and you’re patient, they will be attainable. There are a lot of sacrifices, a lot of work that needs to be done, but if you don't aim high, you sell yourself short.