I was surprised to see that Goldman Sachs was different from other firms, like law firms, that I have seen before. Seniors did not have their own room and colleagues did not work in cubicles. I was very impressed by the flat structure here and the wide opportunities for new joiners.
I studied Business Administration and Law at the University of Hong Kong. I worked in Operations (Securities Operations - Asset Servicing) for 5 years and moved to Prime Services Client Services team thanks to the internal mobility program at GS.
The Interview Process
Most of the interview questions for Operations are competency questions. The hardest would be to identify what my weaknesses are. During college, rarely will professors or your peers tell you what or how you can improve. For Prime Services, the interviews were more around how well I understood the hedge fund / prime brokerage business.
Starting Out at Goldman Sachs
I was surprised to see that Goldman Sachs was different from other firms, like law firms, that I have seen before. Seniors did not have their own room and colleagues did not work in cubicles. Six months after I joined the firm, I was given the opportunity to present on a project to a Managing Director who was visiting the Hong Kong office. Even though she had a very packed schedule, she spared time for a new analyst and expressed huge interest in my presentation. I was very impressed by the flat structure here and the wide opportunities out there for new joiners.
The analyst program includes not only classroom training but also opportunities to network with people at different levels on a regional and global basis. We got to learn about each other’s roles and how we interacted with each other in the big picture.
My managers have significantly changed my thinking since I joined. They are receptive to my suggestions, and this makes me more vocal in global calls and presentations. They had confidence in me and nominated me for various challenging tasks and presentations.
I have one formal mentor and a few informal mentors. They provide me with valuable opinions as to how I should progress in my career path or deal with any problems that I may run into in my day-to-day work. An informal mentor is not constrained by the formality of the mentorship program, so a stronger trust can be developed. My mentor told me how I could develop myself to be an advocate in Asia and how to voice my opinions in a global setting. This falls outside of normal classroom training and only those with experience can offer this kind of insight.
Working in Operations
During my days in Operations, our team had been using physical files and folders for proxy event processing. I was given the chance to look into the possibility of using a shared online platform to automate the workflow and enhance risk control for our current procedures. This initiative saved tons of paper for our team and has been expanded globally across different functional areas. This is a perfect example of how the firm values recommendations. Putting the ideas in motion is highly rewarding and gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
Working in Prime Services
Similarly, the Prime Services group values fresh ideas and recommendations. There was an initiative called “Disrupt” that all analysts and associates were given the chance to pitch their ideas that can change the firm and the way of conducting the business. The winning idea would be presented to the partners at the firm and resources would be committed to carry out that idea.
New ideas are always appreciated across the firm. This is probably one of the driving reasons why I am committed to the firm even after six years.
A year ago, I was given the opportunity to move to the Prime Services team as I was always eager to interact more with clients, understand their workflow and build relationship with them. I was surprised that my previous managers were very supportive of my role change and helped arrange accordingly so that I could have a smooth transition. An open and honest discussion with managers definitely helped open up opportunities for me.
I was an active organizer and participant in FedConnect. This committee connects people from different divisions across Goldman Sachs. It provides me with networking opportunities and exposure to teams that I rarely work with. One of the events that I helped organize was a fundraising event to help build a library in Cambodia, which would give more children the lifelong gift of education.
I also helped organize sessions to help new analysts and interns hone their presentation skills. This gave me the opportunity to work with managers and colleagues in different teams. It also helped improve my communication and presentation skills, both of which are essential at Goldman Sachs.