Q&A with Clare Scherrer, Investment Banking Division

15 MAR 2017

Clare Scherrer, global co-head of the Industrials Group in the Investment Banking Division, has helped companies adapt to transformational shifts, worked in North America and Europe, and, in her spare time, has run 27 marathons. In this interview, she talks about how her business has evolved in the digital age, her advice to junior colleagues looking to stand out, and the proudest moments of her career.

How would you describe the role of a banker in Industrials?

We provide clients with best-in-class advice, exhibit a keen interest in how goods are made and delivered around the world, and are passionate about the trends that are influencing the sector’s growth. We have experts in every corner of the world.

Our bankers also think expansively about their roles, particularly with regard to technology. As our business and the companies we cover evolve, we are partnering closely with TMT colleagues because most of our hardware and manufacturing clients are looking at how they can add intelligence, collect data and offer services to their customers.

What advice would you give junior bankers?

Run towards challenges because difficult situations drive you to think outside of the box. Make the most of the firm's apprenticeship culture by paying attention to how senior leaders give advice to clients. When an opportunity is missed to advise a valued client, quadruple your efforts to capture it. Your goal should be to become the person people want to call when they need something because they trust and value you. 

And when someone gives you feedback, listen. We all have blindspots, and it’s only through self-awareness and pushing others to give you constructive feedback that you grow.

You’ve been a long-time champion of the firm’s recruiting efforts. How do you talk to recruits about building a career here and being a woman in banking?

To build a career at any company, you have to understand the culture. Ours emphasizes excellence and integrity, as well as a global mindset. As you advance, think about your resilience and what keeps you motivated and engaged. It's a constant negotiation between being under challenged and becoming overwhelmed; only you can set those priorities and boundaries.

My experience as a woman in Industrials has taught me that being different can help you stand out and be memorable. Think about your diversity as an advantage, something that makes you unique.

In your more than 20 years at Goldman Sachs, what are you most proud of?

In addition to being recognized as a trusted advisor by my clients, one of my first commercial contributions to the firm comes to mind. I pitched an idea about an opportunity for consolidation that I thought would help us secure more business in the water infrastructure and technology space. It was a pivotal moment for me, and today we have a leading market share by a wide margin.

As a manager, it means a lot that colleagues think of me as someone who cares. We’re a people business, and everyone wants to feel challenged and valued. It's about recognition, helping people navigate their careers and understanding what's going on in their personal lives.

You recently became co-chair of the Commitments Committee. What’s the committee’s role at the firm?

The Commitments Committee reviews a range of equity underwriting and distribution transactions, focusing on legal, reputational, regulatory and business standards. Each week, teams across banking present to the committee either in person or via phone after submitting a preview of their transaction detailing the companies involved so we can assess key concerns and issues before deciding whether the firm will proceed with the transaction.

More broadly, our meetings are a terrific opportunity for junior bankers to enhance their understanding of the commitments process and learn first-hand how committee members review transactions. When I was an associate, I regularly presented to the committee in person, which turned out to be an incredibly formative experience. Not only do you need to be brief in your delivery, you must also be prepared to answer challenging questions and maintain your composure in a meeting with senior partners of the firm. I’d encourage junior bankers – and their peers in other divisions – to take advantage of similar forums where they can pitch ideas, defend their position and think on their feet.


Listen to a podcast with Clare discussing the evolving business of manufacturing