Perspectives from Two 'Leaders of Influence' Honorees

29 OCT 2020

Janki Gandhi and Neha Krishnamohan, both in our Los Angeles office, were recently honored as 'Leaders of Influence: Investment Bankers' by Los Angeles Business Journal. They offer their perspectives on working in the LA office, successfully guiding their clients and teams in the current market, and continuing to influence in times of great uncertainty in a largely remote environment.

Janki Gandhi

Q. Can you tell us about your role and your favorite part of your job?
Janki Gandhi:  Certainly. I am a managing director in the Cross Markets and Consumer Retail groups and spend the majority of my time covering beauty and personal care, and apparel and accessories businesses. [Watch Video: Janki Gandhi - The Beauty Industry’s Next Steps].  

What has kept me in investment banking for more than 16 years is the opportunity to interact with a wide range of clients—founders and entrepreneurs, and private equity (PE) groups. It is a privilege to advise each to achieve successful outcomes, while building strong relationships along the way.

Neha Krishnamohan: I am a vice president in the Healthcare Investment Banking Group focused on M&A. My favorite part of the job is being a thought partner to clients and providing advice that can change the course of their business to address significant unmet needs in medicine today.

Q. Janki, you’ve worked in Los Angeles your entire career.  What are some of the differences compared with the East Coast you’ve seen over the years? 
JG: Although I have always been based in LA, because of the areas that I cover, I have spent a significant amount of time on both coasts. Clients in both places are incredibly talented and clear visionaries in what they do. A key differentiator with the Southern California market is that it is a fairly intimate business community dominated by founder-owned and operated businesses that are not usually heavily infrastructured (e.g., full executive management, internal finance and accounting teams, formal Boards) compared with the East Coast.  This has definitely been changing with the convergence of the consumer and tech worlds in LA and funding coming in to companies at much earlier stages, but still continues to be a theme I see often.

Neha Krishnamohan

Q. Neha, you originally started your career as an analyst in New York, and in 2014 moved to the West Coast. What was it about the West Coast market that appealed to you?
NK: 2014 was an inflection point for the healthcare industry on the West Coast, with a significant influx of funding toward innovative areas in healthcare such as biotechnology. Therefore, I had an opportunity to be part of a focused team on the West Coast where I would be able to help drive dialogue and ultimately have more impact to clients. It was also an added benefit that I had a personal connection to the West Coast and wanted to raise a family here.

Q. How have you continued to influence people and circumstances during this time of uncertainty?
JG: As a coverage banker who joined the firm less than a year ago, a significant amount of my time has been spent garnering relationships new to the firm during this time of uncertainty. It has been incredible to leverage the firm’s platform to assist companies where possible. Because we offer a wide range of products and services, I have been able to guide founder-owned and PE-owned companies by connecting them to various parts of the Goldman Sachs network, both internally and externally. In addition, due to the sheer number of conversations that we have on a regular basis, we are able to provide valuable and tailored insights into strategies that are working, overall benchmarking, value drivers, and so forth.

NK: In healthcare specifically, clients are making critical decisions in a time where their services and products may have more need than ever before. During this time of uncertainty, I have found that sometimes giving advice that is focused on the long term, rather than the short term, can have a greater impact. Occasionally this may mean giving a client the advice they may not want to hear, but what they may need to hear. It’s a balancing act that we have to engage in, but the main goal will always be to support our clients and deliver the right advice.

Q. Janki, you’re very passionate about board diversity, as is the firm, which announced this year only companies with at least one diverse member would be taken public. Can you share more about this deep interest?
My interest in board diversity stems from personal experience as a minority woman who has spent the majority of my career in finance in White, male-dominated environments and also from strong founders and other professionals that I have had the opportunity to meet through my deals.  For example, I know there is still a ton of work to be done, but I have been impressed by the breadth of high-caliber senior women that I have worked with and met at Goldman, and it has further solidified my conviction that diversity inherently strengthens organizations.  Board diversity is just a start, but it is an impactful step in the right direction. The distinct backgrounds of the diverse board members should bring rich perspectives to these companies, allowing them to think more broadly and be more far-reaching in terms of their employees, customer base, overall mission, and more.

Q. You spend a great deal of time mentoring and recruiting the next generation of investment bankers, Neha. What are some examples and tips on how you’ve effectively engaged with mentees and recruits, particularly during the pandemic?
NK: I leverage virtual platforms, like Zoom, not just to engage new members of the team, but also smaller groups, or “pods.” Sometimes a simple phone call can make a big difference when the in-person dynamic cannot exist. I have also hosted the occasional virtual happy hour and other events with activities for teams to get to know each other. Furthermore, giving teams recognition and posting senior leadership on their accomplishments is even more critical in a virtual environment.

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