If I Were Graduating Today: Goldman Sachs Leaders Share Advice to Their Younger Selves

02 JUN 2016

Whether it’s reading more, worrying less, learning how to code or taking the road less traveled – what advice would you give to your younger self if you were graduating today? Goldman Sachs leaders across the firm and across the globe share their responses.

Each business day over the next couple of weeks, we’ll update this page with new and inspiring responses from the firm’s leaders so be sure to check back here for motivation at any age and career stage.

Thalia Chryssikou – Securities Division, London

"Don't be afraid to experiment and cultivate your entrepreneurial spirit. There's going to be lots of things you won't know, but you’ll have many opportunities to ask 'Why?'"

Kathleen Hughes – Investment Management Division, London

"My three top tips for grads today:
1) Never walk into a meeting without a notebook
2) Interact with people in person, don't hide behind technology
3) Be passionate about (and make time for) a personal interest outside of work - friends, family, sport, a hobby, etc."

Craig Russell – Investment Management Division, New York

"Get in early and read up on topics that are important to your role and business. Enthusiasm and curiosity for your business can carry you a long way.

Think about what you personally can do to make your business perform better. If you are not sure what you can do, ask. Be proactive in trying to find ways to add value every day.

Treat everyone with respect and kindness and build relationships with senior people, junior people and peers. You never know who is going to be your next client. It's a round world and leaving a positive impression with people will earn you a quick call back and the benefit of the doubt sometimes."

Denise Wyllie – Finance Division, Hong Kong

"Don’t be in a rush to push your career – take a little more time and become an expert in what you do. If you’re given an opportunity to do something different take a risk and go for it!

Leverage technology – understand what is out there, understand what clients and competitors are using, be an early adopter of strategic tools.

Come to work with a positive attitude, an open enquiring mind and with the intention of getting on with it and making it happen - the professional as well as the personal rewards will come, but be patient!

Finally, make time to do the things you really enjoy outside of work, whether it be sports, hobbies, family and friends, ultimately you will be happier, and it will most definitely give you longevity for your career."

Don Duet – Technology Division, New York 

"Develop your own view of the world – and don’t be afraid to think big. Ask ‘Why not?’ Remember things change and constraints are relative." 

Bunty Bohra – Finance Division, Bengaluru 

"Expect to show up 100 percent of the time and give 100 percent effort, but don't expect to be right 100 percent of the time. In school, achievement is based on getting perfect scores on tests, papers, or projects... but life is not a game of perfect. Success in the real world is trial and error–taking well thought out risks, but being humble enough to learn from mistakes and resilient enough to come back for more."

Edith Cooper – Human Capital Management, New York 

"Be comfortable being uncomfortable. The times when I’ve grown the most were when I was being stretched and was uncertain about what move to make next. Put yourself out there and, in the end, you’ll become a much better version of yourself."

Damian Sutcliffe – Technology Division, London

"Treat every day as a learning opportunity and define learning broadly, be open to feedback and pay it forward – the more you help others out, the easier it will be for you to get the support and collaboration you need."

Esta Stecher – GS Bank, New York 

"You should work really hard, and become really good at what you do. Try to become indispensable.
On a practical level, when at a business event, remember three things:

  1. Hold your drink in your left hand so your right hand won’t be wet and clammy when shaking someone’s hand
  2. Wear your name tag on your right lapel so the other person can read your name when shaking your hand
  3. Repeat the other person’s name back to him or her when you are introduced to help you remember this person’s name later"

David Lang – Head of Salt Lake City Office

"If I were graduating today, I would tell my younger self to recognize the path to success requires tremendous effort and resilience. Put yourself in positive surroundings to enjoy what is going to be a long and challenging journey to achieve the goals you have set for yourself."

Stephanie Hui – Merchant Banking Division, Hong Kong

"If I were graduating today, I would readily speak up when I have a good idea and raise my hand to volunteer when I see a promising opportunity. I would put down my smartphone whether in work meetings or family dinners and give them my full attention. I would not be short term focused but rather be willing to do the extra work in order to grow professionally and personally for the long term."