Q&A with Vanya Kasanof, a Crain's Notable Veteran Executive
Vanya Kasanof, a managing director in the Consumer and Retail Group within the Investment Banking Division, was named to Crain’s NY Notable Veteran Executives list. In this Q&A, Vanya discusses his career path, his coverage within IBD and recent trends, and his advocacy and advice for Veterans navigating a career change.
Could you tell us about your career path? Did you always want to be a US Marine and how did you navigate the journey to GS?
I graduated from Hamilton College, a liberal arts school in upstate New York. Before starting my “grown up” career, I wanted to spend time in active military service. Needless to say, the US Marine Corps served me their own unique dose of “growing up!” Since my service was also during the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, I ended up staying in the Marines for 5 years. After that, I left active service and caught my breath in business school. I joined Goldman Sachs in 2006 and have been here since. My military experience helps me at Goldman to remain sharply focused on what’s most important and the objective at hand, to not get sidetracked by all the everyday stresses and distractions.
How do you help our clients in your work in Investment Banking and what excites you about your role?
I currently cover a range of sectors from beverages to food to personal care to retailers within the Consumer and Retail Group, and previously was head of the global beverages sector. As an advisor to Goldman Sachs clients, we aim to help them succeed in any and every way possible. Part of this includes staying tuned in to the trends in the sector so that we can provide timely guidance. For example, at the onset of the pandemic, there was initially a huge pantry stocking that folks went through for beverages and food. This is now evolving to a new normal that is still unfolding.
Most of the advice we offer our clients revolves around corporate finance and transactions, particularly in M&A and capital raising. What makes this process so exciting are the deep bonds that form. After you’ve worked with someone and done a deal or two, you strike up a relationship, which humanizes the experience and makes the work we do much more satisfying. This is as true in the remote, Zoom-style era of the pandemic as it was before, and will continue to be so in the hybrid future.
Can you tell us about the firm’s Veterans Network and the work you do to help Veterans with their careers?
Working with the Veterans Network is very important to me. It’s a small way of giving back to folks who have sacrificed so much, and done so with the goal of serving something bigger than themselves. So we try to focus network objectives on recruiting as many Veterans as we can, helping those Veterans progress and find meaningful roles at Goldman Sachs, and developing a sense of community and belonging at the firm.
Of those objectives, recruiting is vital in helping folks transition from their time in service. We work through the Veterans Integration Program, campus recruiting, and direct hires, to have as wide an aperture as possible in getting Veterans to Goldman Sachs. And finally, while there aren’t many of our employees who are still serving through the reserves, there are a few, and we make sure they feel supported and remembered while they are actively deployed.
Additionally, many Veterans that are coming off of years of sacrifice and dedication sometimes find that it takes some time to realign their sense of purpose with working in finance. Finance can be an exciting and rewarding career, but the best asset here is really patience and flexibility, as making the transition takes time.
I also think Veterans bring a tremendous amount of value to Goldman Sachs. Veterans tend to have a diversity of background and perspectives, together with a real sense of operational focus and a strong moral compass, that is quite additive. In that sense, having Veterans as part of the Goldman culture is a great proposition, for both Veterans and the firm.