Thursday, March 15, 2012

On quitting Goldman Sachs

A senior executive of Goldman Sachs has gone public with his decision to quit the firm by writing an article in the New York Times on the subject:
It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.
There is no end, it seems, to the public bashing of the investment bank. Wonder how Goldman will respond, if at all.

(Thanks to Sidharth Sinha for the pointer)


Anonymous said...

They have responded on their website:
NYT Op-ed Response

chandramouli said...

When there is no competition and money is made easily, there is always concepts like teamwork, integrity, humility etc. in abundance. I remember, when license raj was in existence, life in companies like Premier Automobiles, Hindustan Motors, Walchand Group and many other companies was the same as was prevalent In Goldman. There was no competition, no cost-consciousness and tension of a tender being lost. Things change and one has to adjust to such changes in the corporate world otherwise you will be forced to quit. It is like some of the sub-brokers of the Indian Stock markets still saying that life was so good when "ring" was in place. There was team work, integrity, easy money etc. as all deals were done through sign of fingers. Most of them could not cope up with the mechanised trading system of today and had to quit the industry. Change and adopting to the change is what is relevant and that determines whether you will survive or perish.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with Chandramouli. Intensified competition & imperative of adaptability to change does not mean & necessitate sacrificing the attributes of integrity, humility & teamwork. Yes, Changing with Changing Times, remains vital for survival but these cannot be at cost of basic human values that makes any group (be it family, company, society or nation) an affordable place to live.

If Competition means Value Sacrifice, how would you justify the cases of Enrons & Satyams. In times when such debacle unfolded, everyone started talking about values; and I am talking of only 2/3 years before. And now, ascribing the cause to competition, you are trying to press that these are mere bookish jargons that any Company/institutions has to publish on its website (be it under 'Career', or 'About Us' or 'Our Values'), merely to entice stakeholders. Remember, the day when it transpires to these stakeholders that these words are mere luring bandwagons, they will retaliate and cease the relationship; and one such instance was this Vice President going public on his grievance. Don't doubt that there would be only one of many who was aggrieved by the detoriation in culture; others would be equally or more aggrieved, but they didn't dare to denounce the fact the way this employee did.

chandramouli said...

Upto 40 I will face competition and try to make my life. After 40, when I have achieved necessities of my life, I will talk of attributes of integrity, humility & teamwork etc. as an enlightened man. I am doing my MBA first for settling myself in life by facing competition and rat race. Once I have achieved my basic life requirements like the senior executive of GS I will also talk of these attributes.

Anonymous said...

Does success mean success at all costs? No it doesn't. Success is true success only when it comes after a struggle against short-cuts et al.

But more than that, sustainable competitiveness in corporates is only attained if you stick to good old-fashioned values. Look around: there is plenty of evidence of the ill-effects of the approach espoused by chandramouli. Balance-sheets in the red, loss of market-share etc etc can all be traced to the i-me-myself approach of managers, who place self above the organisation.

The practical evidence of this is to be found in abominably high levels of undocumented claims in channels, atrocious stock levels (90-120 days at some places!!!!), attrition, hire-and-fire, unhealthy business practices et al

At the core of the problem is the way we measure performance: putting emphasis on results as opposed to processes. Yes - at times you do have to bend the rulebook. Problem is that the distinction between bending and breaking has vanished. Further, bending the rules once and bending as a matter of course are two different alternatives. This is something practicing managers now-a-days do not accept or realise. More often than not, it is the people who take their place (or their subordinates)who face the brunt of the resulting problems...

I wish I could post this under my own name... I know that I cant, for I value my corporate career!

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