A Conversation with Goldman Sachs' Veterans Network Regional Heads
We catch up with Matt Gibson, Adam Crook and Krishnamurthy Vaidyanathan, regional heads of the Goldman Sachs Veterans Network in the Americas, EMEA and India, who share a bit about their backgrounds and career paths, goals for the Network and how the firm recognizes Veterans around the world.
Tell us a little about yourself, your career path, and interests?
Matt: I grew up as the son of a career Naval Officer (Dad), and an English teacher (Mom). We moved around a bit as my dad moved up the ranks in the Navy, and settled in Springfield, Virginia for my high school years. Because of my dad’s service, and the fact that my mom came from a military family, I was very aware of the military: its traditions, opportunities and lifestyle. My time in the Navy is still one of my best experiences. I was on two ships combined for a total of five years. I was fortunate enough to travel the world on these ships, to meet many fascinating people and to be given a broad range of leadership opportunities (Weapons officer, Navigator, Combat Officer) to learn and grow.
I decided to join Goldman Sachs well before I even knew what the firm did. I was drawn to Goldman Sachs by the reputation of excellence, and partnership, and by the firm’s brand as being the best place to work. In retrospect, it was just a gut feel; I wanted to be part of an elite team like I felt like I was in the Navy. Over the past 20 years, I have been given tremendous opportunities to learn and grow, and fortunately for me, I’ve had mentors and coaches along the way who guided me and lifted me up when I needed it. I will always be indebted to those who invested their time and energy in me and my career. At this point, I’m having an amazing experience co-leading an inspiring group of individuals in Technology, Media and Telecommunications investment banking. I am so impressed by the quality and depth of our team at all levels, and it has been so great to watch the team perform at a record level despite many challenges.
Outside of work, I spend as much time as I can with my three sons, who are all active in athletics and keep me busy going from soccer games to track meets (and for my oldest, football games when he was in college). I serve on the Boards of both of my alma maters (U.S. Naval Academy and Northwestern University – Kellogg), and I find I enjoy staying connected with these institutions that played such a big role in my formative years.
Adam: I did not come from a military family per se, like most people in the UK I have a number of great-grandparents who served in the British Army in World War 1, but no direct connection in my immediate family. The area of the UK I was brought up in (Lancashire), is a fiercely loyal and patriotic part of the country, it has traditionally provided more soldiers per capita than any other region in both World Wars and I do remember, growing up, the sense of deep respect that veterans were given by the whole community. I joined the British Army after studying for my degree at the University of Edinburgh, attended Sandhurst and then became an infantry officer in my local Regiment (the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment). My years in Platoon Command and Company second-in-command were spent in Northern Ireland dealing with the tail-end of The Troubles at what became a very historic time: Good Friday Agreement, Omagh bombing, inter-community riots around Drumcree and the Marching seasons.
As a mid-level Captain, I decided that I wanted to test myself in civilian life and went to study for an MBA at London Business School (LBS), where I developed a passion for economics, finance and entrepreneurship. I spent four years post LBS at Barclays Capital before moving across to Goldman Sachs about 14 years ago.
From the very outset, Goldman Sachs has been the most rewarding place to work that I have ever experienced. It is meritocratic to its core. It is a performance culture – it does not matter what colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation you are, if you perform strongly you get opportunity, you get a bigger platform and you are rewarded and elevated. I have always found that refreshing and intensely energising. If you value working with the best in the business, if you feel energised working with smart colleagues, if you want to be challenged every single day of your career, then it is simply the best place to work.
Krishnamurthy: I joined Goldman Sachs in 2011 and had the pleasure of working across teams within Operations Engineering, Platform Engineering and more recently with Core Engineering as the global head of Production Runtime Experience (PRX) and co-head of Core Engineering in India. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, I worked in the US with many firms, most recently with The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC). My career path has taken me through varied experiences and provided an opportunity to experience different people and work cultures over the last 27 years. Helping steer the Veteran’s Network at Goldman Sachs India is one of the opportunities that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It has provided me the satisfaction of having meaningfully contributed to the diversity, equity and inclusion goals of the firm and at the same time helping veterans in India transition to the corporate world. Outside of work, my interests include reading, gardening and cooking.
For those unfamiliar with the Network, how would you describe its role and how has it helped our people?
Matt: The Veterans Network helps attract and develop veterans and also exposes the rest of the firm to a group of people with significant leadership experience, an understanding of being part of something bigger than oneself and a commitment to excellence, all of which are consistent with the firm’s values.
I recently moderated a fireside chat with Retired General Joe Votel, who served as the commander of US Central Command and now runs a nonprofit focused on advising the US national security community. The Network frequently brings in thought leaders like the general to talk about their experiences within, and outside of, the military. We also partner closely with the firm’s Human Capital Management division on the Veterans Integration Program (VIP). In the US program, over a period of months, participants hone their skills, connect with mentors and receive guidance to apply for full-time roles at the firm. Apply to our Veterans Integration Program today – applications close November 21 at 11:59pm ET.
Adam: I would agree fully with Matt’s perspective here that the Network plays a vital role in attracting and showcasing the unique talents and perspectives of veterans to the firm.
I am very proud of what we have built in the Veterans Network in EMEA in the last four to five years. Our Veterans Integration Programme has provided a steady stream of some of the best and brightest talent from the military and integrated them in to the very fabric of the company. It was initially a ‘hard-sell’ persuading divisions to hire mature veterans, rather than a fresh 21-year-old analyst, but I feel really proud that, as our VIP graduates have grown in their careers and performed strongly, more and more teams are buying in to the idea that veterans bring a ‘diversity of mindset’, as well as self-motivation and an intrinsic drive for hard-work, that can be very additive to a team. I am also proud of the internal network we have built to support veterans through their career-journey, the inter-network events that we have helped to drive (addressing complex issues with our colleagues from the Firmwide Black Network and the LGBTQ+ network), in the charity fund-raising we organise and in the advice/counselling that we give back to veteran-led businesses.
The Network has never been in stronger position and we look forward to sharing our events with the broader Goldman Sachs community in November.
I would also add that those of us from military backgrounds are used to being part of a close knit team with a strong sense of camaraderie, and the transition from military to civilian or corporate life can often be tough without that continued support. Consequently, the Network plays a vital role in fostering an atmosphere of inclusion and creating a community where people from all backgrounds can come together to support and develop one another.
Krishnamurthy: I agree with the above – the Network plays a key role in recruiting and integration efforts for veterans and enhancing the firm’s outlook as an employer of choice. The India Veterans Network was constituted in 2016 aiming to bring together people of similar backgrounds to be able to share and benefit from each other’s experiences and form a community to lean onto while also providing opportunities to interact with senior leadership. As the regional head of the Veterans Network, I engage with leadership across divisions to advocate veterans hiring and increase representation by raising awareness of the unique value proposition that veterans add to the firm.
How is the firm recognizing Veterans across the US, UK and India?
Matt: November is Veterans Month in the US, and November 11 is Veterans Day. We’ve developed a slideshow of current veteran employees that will run on TVs in our offices to recognize the service of our colleagues. Additionally, we’ll offer a Community TeamWorks event for members of the Network to review resumes and provide interviewing coaching for VIP applicants. We’ve also invited current and former military leaders to speak to our people about their experiences.
Adam: November 11 is Remembrance Day in the UK to honour the fallen and we will host a Celebration of Remembrance in our London auditorium on that day to commemorate the sacrifice of servicemen and women over the years. We also have a series of events across November planned to recognize the extraordinary contribution past and active members of the military have made to the firm and our country. We will be hosting fireside chats and panel sessions with prominent guest-speakers from government, security services and military backgrounds and, in the spirit of ally-ship, we will also host an event with the Firmwide Black Network to celebrate the role of the Black community within the military. In addition, we will continue our support for the Royal British Legion by inviting employees to sell poppies for one hour during the day to support The Poppy Appeal which raises more than 30% of funds used to provide support for the Armed Forces Community.
Krishnamurthy: While most of the world dedicates November to their veterans, in India we celebrate Veterans Month in August given India gained independence on August 15, 1947. The theme for this year was ‘Calibrating Our Inner Compass – Navigating Workplaces’. The Network commemorated India’s 75th Independence Day this year by hoisting the national flag at the Bengaluru office followed by a message from senior leadership on Sunday, August 15. The Network also recognized individuals and teams who despite their own personal circumstances, answered the call of duty in this pandemic supporting the firm through onsite vaccination drives, providing a safe Return to Office environment, medical support efforts and much more. The Network also hosted a session for India wide offices with Commander Abhilash Tomy, a veteran officer from the Indian Navy and the first Indian to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation of the world under sail. It was an inspiring session, where Commander Abhilash’s journey highlighted the need for the audience to focus on their journeys while striding towards goals as most of our learnings come from the path we pave towards them.
What are some key objectives of the Network for the rest of 2021 leading into 2022?
Matt: In the US, we’re launching a mentorship program focused on network-building and enhancing career development. We’ve also just launched Veterans Month and want to ensure we reach as many people at the firm as possible. We’re also partnering with Human Capital Management to recruit applicants for the 2022 Veterans Integration Program.
Adam: Similarly, to the US, we’re focused on planning and executing for Veterans Month and Remembrance Day as the highlight of our programming calendar but also finalizing our candidate list for our Veterans Integration Programme for 2022, alongside members from Human Capital Management, which will ensure an ongoing pipeline of talented veterans joining the firm.
Krishnamurthy: In India, some of our top priorities continue to focus on the following:
- Partner with Human Capital Management to drive hiring strategies for veterans and explore varied sources of hiring, while continuing focus on VIP
- Enhance our employer of choice brand for veterans both internally and externally
- Strengthen our integration strategy further for veterans in partnership with Human Capital Management
What has been the best, or most impactful, part of being involved with the Network?
Matt: I’m a US Navy veteran, and some of my strongest relationships developed during my service. While veterans are by no means a homogenous group – service is quite different depending on the branch of military and your role within it – we tend to gravitate to each other. The Network enables us to meet people at the firm with shared experiences as well as those without military experience who care about the community.
Adam: I think one of the stand out moments for me was to see how the community came together following recent events in Afghanistan. This was a very distressing time for many of our members, some of whom made significant personal sacrifices or who lost friends and family members during the conflict. In collaboration with our US colleagues, the Network hosted an open forum event to allow members to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment and the reaction was extremely powerful. Members shared personal stories of loss, grief and frustration and were met with understanding, support and advice on how to cope in times such as these. The community is really what makes the Network here special and it was hugely impactful to see it in action.
Krishnamurthy: It has been the evolution of the Veterans Integration Program in India. In 2021, we had the largest veteran cohort since program inception in 2014. This was also the first ever virtual internship program that operated amidst the pandemic. Additionally, program had 50% gender diversity as compared to almost no women officers in last few years. The program also saw an increase in participating divisions from three to eight across front to back functions this year. The internship offers a guided period of exploration for the veterans with an opportunity to sharpen their skills in a work environment that is significantly different from their experience in the armed forces. It also gives participants the ability to explore a new area of expertise and build new skills. Whether it leads to a full-time career or serves to sharpen the skills necessary to take the next step, the VIP is a valuable experience for veterans who want to re-enter the workforce.
This year, we further enhanced the Veterans Integration Roadmap by launching a buddy program which supports new veteran converts as they transition from the forces to Goldman Sachs. The buddy program is complemented with a comprehensive training curriculum executed in partnership with the Human Capital Management Learning team. Weekly open office hours are hosted by the Veterans Network leadership for the interns along with leadership connect sessions which was a big differentiator. Seeing these efforts translate into the largest veteran cohort, not just limited to Bengaluru but also to our new office in Hyderabad, has been the best outcome of the Network’s efforts.
Apply to our Veterans Integration Program today: