Letter to My Younger Self: Jennifer Roth, Global Markets Division, New York

08 APR 2022

Jennifer Roth manages the FICC Global Currencies and Emerging Markets sales businesses in North America and Brazil, as well as Latin America Equities Distribution. Here, Jen shares five pieces of advice she wishes she had received earlier in her career.

Dear Jennifer,

As you read this, you are headed to summer camp, where you have spent many summers during your childhood. You didn’t intend on coming back this summer – between

 your sophomore and junior years of college – but you sent your resume out to all of the banks in New York in the hopes of securing an internship, and heard nothing back. It seems like the road to Wall Street from Washington University in St Louis – where you are triple majoring in Finance, International Business and Spanish – is going to be a bit more circuitous than you thought.

Little did you know that your 10-year-old camper would be the person to jumpstart your career. After eight weeks at camp, she begged for you to return next year and be her counselor:

“No,” you explained, “I love camp but I want to get a job in finance.”

“Is Goldman Sachs finance?” she asked you.

“Yes! Exactly.” you replied.

“Where did you go to college?” She then asked, to which you replied, "Wash U.”

As it turned out, your young camper's mom worked at Goldman Sachs and was a Wash U alum, and at the behest of her pre-teen daughter, she helped get your resume reviewed.

After a two-year stint in Private Wealth Management – which you loved – you took mobility to join Emerging Markets in what was then the Securities Division to be closer to the markets and continue to hone your client service skills. Over time, your remit will continue to expand, thanks in large part to the mentors and managers who invested in you over the years.

As you embark on this rewarding and surprising journey, I am sharing five pieces of advice that I hope will serve you along the way. 

P.S. If you don’t get it right every day, show yourself a little kindness. Eventually, you will have three wonderful children and you’ll start structuring your schedule and your time to make sure you can be there for them. Not every day will be a win – it is a balance, but you learn to lean on those around you to make it work. 

Build relationships from the ground up. You never know who will help you and whom you can help. After all, if it weren’t for your 10-year-old camper, you may not have joined Goldman Sachs – the place you have made your career AND met your husband. Always pay it forward.

Ask questions – even the stupid ones. During the first few years of your career, let your curiosity fuel you. As you become more senior, it becomes a bit more uncomfortable to ask the questions that may seem basic to some, but it is a skill that will continue to serve you. For example, going on a listening tour when taking on a new role helps you set a strong foundation and develop informed strategy for your team.

Look at the bigger picture. Over time, you will learn that you need to take a step back to maximize your impact. As one example, you’ll learn to refer clients to other desks when you think their needs could be better met by a different part of the firm. Adopting a long-term, holistic view is at the heart of our One Goldman Sachs approach to client service and allows you to drive stronger outcomes. 

A skill that takes you to one point in your career, won’t take you to the next. During the first few years of your career, you will excel at being a good sales person. The day that you are tapped to take on a leadership role, building a team and shaping a new global offering for our clients, you’ll be shaking. Being a manager is a different skillset that you’ll have to develop over the years – it takes time to learn how to communicate a vision, and bind people to that vision. A key component of motivating a team is connecting personally with everyone with whom you work.

Stay the course. Over the next two decades, there will be enormous successes and what can feel like equally enormous disappointments. When you feel you missed out, try not to let your emotions overcome you – trust in the process and remind yourself it’s a long game.