Michael Associate, Firmwide Compensation Human Capital Management Division, Hong Kong
Studied: Warwick University, LLB in Law; Hong Kong University, Master’s in Law
Joined GS: Intern 2011, Full-time 2012
Hobbies: Tennis, volunteering
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, but I went to boarding school and did my undergraduate studies in the UK. I returned to Hong Kong to get my Master’s. While in graduate school, I was the president of the student LGBT organization. One of my responsibilities was to organize recruiting sessions for different industries; it was actually during a financial services event that I first learned about some of the opportunities at Goldman Sachs that most appealed to me.
I knew that Goldman Sachs had a great reputation, but I wasn’t coming from a finance background. In speaking with recruiters at the event, I learned that my strengths could make a difference at the firm. I had studied law at both the undergraduate and graduate level and always thought I’d end up a lawyer, but I realized what had always attracted me to the field was the opportunity to work directly with people. HCM offered me the perfect opportunity to do that.
I was very impressed with the nature of the role during my internship, but more importantly for me, as a diverse candidate, I felt welcomed and I felt the community was inclusive. Goldman Sachs is a firm that really promotes and supports diversity throughout its culture. Having so many role models in the Hong Kong office and seeing Lloyd Blankfein publicly support same-sex marriage have helped me be a successful professional and comfortable being out at the same time.
I currently work on the firmwide compensation team. We work very closely with the campus recruiting team, as well as partners in different divisions, to devise compensation packages that will help to attract talent. But we don’t just focus on salary; we consider compensation from a total reward perspective, which includes health, wellness, and then, once you’ve joined, training through Goldman Sachs University that can help you achieve your career goals.
The advice I often give students about the interview process is to have an open mind. Understand what the core and transferrable skills are that you’ve learned rather than the technical skill set you’ve acquired. In my case, I learned how to make a rational argument, to communicate it and to interact with people by building relationships. It’s the transferable skills to focus on and to talk about during interviews.
We’re an international firm, and global connectivity is very important. On the Asia compensation team we also work very closely with our colleagues around the world. We value each other’s knowledge, expertise and insight. Being international is something a lot of people talk about, but we really live it in our role.
Asking good questions and being a willing collaborator are the keys to being successful at Goldman Sachs. People might tend to think that working in finance mostly entails keeping your head down and doing your own thing. It’s actually all about showing interest in other people’s work, asking smart questions, and working together. Like I said, we’re an international firm with lots of different teams. Those are real resources not only in your day-to-day work, but as you think about your career.
Outside of work, I have two main passions. The first is tennis, which I’ve been playing since I was ten years old. I used to train as a junior and play in tournaments; now my idea of a vacation is going to a tennis camp, which I actually just did. And then the second is volunteering. I work with a student organization that I founded in school as well as some local NGOs that are focused on the LGBT community. We encourage students to see that anything is possible. You can be from any background; as long as you have the passion for something, you can achieve it.