Letter to My Younger Self: Gunjan Samtani, Engineering, Bengaluru

10 MAY 2021

Gunjan Samtani, head of Goldman Sachs Services in India, shares five pieces of advice he would give his younger self.   


Gunjan, 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

You will find yourself reflecting on these iconic words by Robert Frost as you look back on a life that has been fulfilling, and look forward to what lies ahead. I know it is impossible for anyone to know where we would have been if we took a different road. But you should know that the values and lessons you learn on the road you take, will always hold you in good stead. This road will take you to several countries and organizations before bringing you to Goldman Sachs, where you will serve as the head of the Bengaluru and Hyderabad offices. At the firm, you will partner with colleagues, mentor and be mentored by talented people, and grow as a professional and leader. I cannot wait for you to experience what lies ahead. Remember, while the journey will be in equal parts exciting and challenging, with the benefit of hindsight, you’ll see that it was always rewarding, and most importantly that through it all, you remain a continuous learner.

I am sharing my best learnings with you in the hope that when the seas are rough and the skies are hazy, these will serve as beacons to help you navigate and stay the course.

The ‘how’ is as important as the ‘what.’ Define and measure success beyond the achieving of goals. Just as your career is a marathon and not a sprint, your success will be multi-dimensional. The way you conduct yourself, the energy you demonstrate, the confidence you instill in people, the transparency with which you engage, the partnerships you build, they all add up to how successful you ultimately are. Irrespective of the outcomes of your goals, these will help define you as a professional and will serve as the foundation of what you represent.

Never underestimate the power of the collective. Taking people along with you propels the pace of outcomes and enhances the significance and sustainability of your journey. This can be your team, your division or even your organization. By building strong and trusted relationships, you create ecosystems that are mutually beneficial and synergistic. Add to this the clarity of purpose and a sense of community, and you will have created the secret sauce for significant sustainable outcomes, at accelerated paces of delivery. 

Engage with your heart and soul. Your job can be much more than a source of material security and intellectual stimulus. Introspect and understand who you are as a person and what drives you. Now find a way to align your job to these drivers. Harmony between your work and your personal motivators will fuel a commitment and intensity to your role, which will truly differentiate you.

Let humility and integrity be your north star. In your career, as in your life, there will be several ups and downs. When you are on the top of your game, stay humble, remember all those who contributed to your success and pay it forward. Use your platform to elevate your teams, and use your personal equity to amplify the significance of your team’s work. And when things are not going your way, remember that this too shall pass. Diligence and integrity are always your best allies.

Be inspired by others but stay true to who you are. Don’t seek to emulate others blindly. Embrace your unique gifts and strengths, and polish them up so that the best version of you is out there, every day, doing what you do best. Play to your strengths and always remain authentic. You would rather be the best version of you, than the second best version of someone else.