Hello From... Frankfurt
Mae, a vice president in the Regulatory and Audit Management Office discusses her career and international experience, and what brought her home to Germany to take on a role in our Frankfurt office.
Mae, you moved to Frankfurt in 2013 after spending time in both the New York and London offices. What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed?
I was born and raised in Germany, but school and my career at Goldman Sachs ended up taking me all over to live in Dallas, New York and London for 11 years. After having lived away from Germany for so long, I was thinking about returning and luckily a great opportunity came up in Frankfurt and I moved back in 2013.
Frankfurt is a much smaller office, so that’s the obvious difference you feel straight away. Something that I didn’t quite expect though was that I was able to work with and get to know different areas of the firm much quicker; the nature of the work is very cross-divisional and collaborative. Another benefit of a regional office is the connectivity with and exposure to senior people on a much more regular basis.
Tell us a bit about your role in Frankfurt, what are your main focus areas?
In simple terms, alongside our COO I help manage our relationship with the European Central Bank (ECB). As a result of Brexit, the Frankfurt office has grown to become the firm’s hub in continental Europe, and with Goldman Sachs Bank Europe now under the ECB’s direct supervision the interaction has intensified.
In light of this, we established a central management office to coordinate interactions with the ECB – this is where I come in. In this role I partner with numerous stakeholders across divisions; it’s important to ensure that we send a consistent message externally and that someone has a holistic overview internally. It has been extremely interesting being part of the conversations between senior management and the regulator on the strategy for the region.
Do you have any advice for someone considering moving to a regional GS office?
Prioritise building your network, personally and professionally – it makes a huge difference. Everyone speaks really good English in Germany, so the language barrier is not a problem. Also, it’s important to be open minded to the experience! I really thought I would miss the big city life, but you quickly learn to appreciate the sense of community and shorter commute you get being in a smaller city, amongst other benefits. It makes a huge difference day-to-day.
Frankfurt itself has definitely changed since I grew up here, and has grown with the ECB being headquartered here and due to Brexit. It’s becoming much more international, with lots of trendy places to eat and shop (in normal times!). There’s also a lot of nature around, including the infamous Riesling wine region, and the alps are not too far away either when you drive the Autobahn!
You’re involved in the Frankfurt Women’s Network, can you tell us a bit about your priorities in this respect?
It’s important to not just create a network amongst women, but to get the support of everyone. Our Women’s Network is heavily supported by all of our senior leadership, not just the women in this population. It’s really gratifying to see business leads who are so passionate about this topic, and this passion definitely rubs off on their teams.
In terms of our priorities, internally we focus a lot on providing bespoke programming designed for member development, with topics ranging from communication skills to getting to know different business areas at the firm. We also leverage the senior leaders from around the firm to connect with our network, as well as connecting them with our clients. One example of this was when we hosted an event for our female clients with Kathy Matsui, who spoke about her Womenomics research – we received a huge amount of positive feedback from clients on this.
How have you maintained a healthy work life balance throughout this past year?
Keeping up a routine has been key. I make sure to get up every morning, get ready as if I was going into the office and start my day from my desk as I usually would. Regular exercise and healthy eating have also been really good focus areas for maintaining resiliency – it sounds like the basics, but I’ve found focusing on this hugely helpful.
Lastly, keeping in touch with colleagues and friends – I’m naturally a social person, so made this a consistent priority which has really made a difference.