Letter to My Younger Self: Michael Marsh, Investment Banking Division

02 DEC 2019

Michael Marsh is head of EMEA Credit Finance, responsible for Leveraged Finance and jointly responsible for Structured Finance. He is also global co-head of the Global Alternative Capital Solutions Group. Mike serves as a member of the Firmwide Capital Committee, Investment Banking Division Risk Council, EMEA Inclusion and Diversity Committee and Goldman Sachs International Bank Management Committee.

Dear Mike,

Contrary to popular belief, you won’t look back on your life and think of it as a marathon; it’s going to be a series of sprints.

But rest assured, your drive and determination are going to give you a career that excites and interests you at the world’s leading financial firm. It won’t be easy, far from it, but you will enjoy what you do and whom you work with, every single day.

With that said, here are five pieces of advice that will help you along the way:

  1. There is no substitute for hard work. It may seem obvious, and I know you’ve heard it before, but this isn’t just a given; it’s a principle that you’ll build your professional life around. Hand in hand with this is trusting yourself and sticking with your gut. If you’re doing what you truly believe to be right, then it probably will be.
  2. Champion diversity of thought. Diversity in all its forms is hugely important, but often diversity of thought and mind is not considered. People may look the same, may come from the same place, but have past experiences that will shape and significantly differentiate their thinking and the way their minds work. Embrace and be inclusive of this. Different perspectives will become what’s most valuable to you when you reach the stage where you’re building your own teams; and, diversity of thought is crucial in a risk-taking business.
  3. Embrace your antithesis. In a similar vein, enjoy and embrace people who are your opposite. This isn’t to say it won’t often be challenging working with people with opposing views to yours, but it will make you better at your job in the long run and will challenge you to think differently.
  4. Look after your health. Take the time to really take care of yourself. Your health, both physical and mental, should be one of your highest priorities. And live your life! It sounds cliché, but life really is too short. If you don’t like something, then change it. It’s never out of your hands and you’re never trapped in a past decision.
  5. Stay positive. Life can and will be hard, but ultimately it’s dull without its challenges. Happiness and sadness are relative emotions, and you need both. Of course living life in constant extremes isn't sustainable, but there is a sweet spot, and life is simply not as enjoyable without a dose of volatility, as long as you keep perspective. Remembering the positives will help you through the negatives.