Q&A with Bentley de Beyer, Head of Human Capital Management, Goldman Sachs
Bentley de Beyer will join Goldman Sachs as Head of Human Capital Management in early February. Previously, Bentley worked in Singapore for Johnson & Johnson in a senior human resources role. In this Q&A, we ask him about his background, passion for human resources and what drew him back to Goldman Sachs, where he was once an investment banking analyst.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, and where have you lived since?
Bentley: I grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia. I was pretty studious and worked on the weekends in my mother’s retail business, and ended up being the first person in my family to go to university. I have lived in the United Kingdom, where I completed my masters at Cambridge, New Zealand, where I met my husband Dean, Singapore (twice), India, which truly humbled me, and most recently the US. I am fortunate to have a family who have a great sense of adventure, enjoy experiencing new environments and cultures, and can efficiently pack up a house or a suitcase better than anyone I know!
How did you get started in human resources, and why are you so passionate about the field?
Bentley: My first role in human resources was as a compensation consultant for Mercer designing share and option plans for public companies. It was a great role for someone who was interested in how HR practices can drive high performance and deliver shareholder value. I spent time in the airline business leading employee relations, which helped me understand how critical HR practices are in lean operational businesses and also helped me develop a ton of resilience. I helped build out the global tech and operations hub for Barclays Capital in Singapore, which ended up being an intense multi-country recruitment project but was hugely satisfying as we moved talent from across the region to support their front office in record time.
Ultimately, I am passionate about HR as it is multi-disciplinary, based on deep insights on what motivates people to deliver high performance, and is fundamental to successfully delivering the strategy of any business. I have seen firsthand how great HR can unlock the purpose and potential of talent, underpin a diverse and inclusive culture and deliver exceptional growth for companies – just as the absence of it can lead to companies losing their way.
What’s the most important thing a company can do when it comes to its people?
Bentley: Create a culture that is inclusive, be clear about what success looks like and ensure that every individual can connect their purpose and unique skills to make an impact, and in doing so see a pathway for their continued personal and professional growth.
You once worked at Goldman Sachs as an analyst. What led you to come back after all these years?
Bentley: Yes, my first role post-graduation was as an analyst in investment banking. The people I met then and worked with continue to feature prominently in my life. My return is based on a deep appreciation of the world-class talent, unwavering commitment to clients and culture of Goldman Sachs. I am truly excited about the prospect of working as head of Human Capital Management with my team to continue to evolve our human capital strategy, have the opportunity to connect with our talent around the world and leverage best practices in HR and HR technology.
What do you think is most important when collaborating with global teams? Any lessons learned from working in different sectors and for different companies around the world?
Bentley: Cultural dexterity is critical for any leader operating in a global firm. Every market, every country and every culture I have encountered has continued to be a great teacher. Small things like mindfulness of time zones to larger learnings on the ways work gets done in different countries are critical. Despite working across many sectors, including different areas of financial services, I have learnt many principles which I believe are universal – the quality of leadership and culture trumps everything else; every employee is accountable for the health of a firm’s talent pipeline; and globally diverse, high-performing teams are the hardest for competitors to beat – among many others!
There’s a lot of talk at the moment about the “future of work.” What are some of the key trends you’re focused on?
Bentley: So much of the debate about the future of work focusses on the advent of new technology and the challenges of how disruptive this might be. I am more optimistic. I think about the future of work from a talent lens. How can we best identify and develop learning agility in our talent, and build their readiness given domain knowledge has a shorter and shorter shelf life and the scale of disruption will continue to intensify. I am interested in what will motivate talent in the future and how we need to adapt as a large global firm to continue to develop and retain the best. I am particularly excited about leveraging the expanding power of analytics and continually assessing new technology platforms to enhance our human capital offering and experience.
At Johnson & Johnson, you served as global co-sponsor of Open & Out, the company’s LGBT+ employee resource group. Can you tell us about your involvement, and why advancing diversity and inclusion is important to you?
Bentley: Earlier in my career, I was once told by a more senior leader if I came out at work, this would be a handbrake on the rest of my career and opportunities would be limited. This has motivated me ever since to ensure that I am the most authentic leader I can be and that no employee needs to experience a similar conversation.
Diversity and inclusion are the basis of innovation and to unlocking the potential of our people. Equally, if we do not reflect who our customers and communities are, how do we expect to make an impact, serve them well and compete effectively in the future? I have been privileged to see the power of talent bringing their best selves to work across different industries and geographies. Diversity & Inclusion is a journey centered on genuine commitment, vigilance and honest conversation around where we need locally and globally to be better.
I was the global co-sponsor of the LGBTQI employee resource group at J&J. I provided air cover, funding and moral support to a talented group of leaders who exponentially grew the number of chapters for this group from 5 in the US to over 40 internationally in two years. Super proud of the difference that this team made.
On a weekend, where might we find you?
Bentley: Navigating the cultural corners and walking the markets of any major city. My husband is an interior architect so anything from a house tour to a movie related to architecture and design might also win the day. We find cooking for friends at home and sharing great food and wine is a great way to unwind.
Do you have a favorite music group?
Bentley: Anything ever written and performed by the Pet Shop Boys. I used to get asked by my father on the drive to school, what instruments were playing in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, so I also have had a love for great classical music from an early age.
Is there something you can’t live without?
Bentley: My beloved grandfather’s IWC watch, which he gave me just before he passed.