I had the opportunity today to participate in a Zoom call with Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO David M. Solomon, moderated by CNBC anchor Sara Eisen. Since becoming CEO in October 2018, Solomon has navigated the 152-year-old investment bank through economic change and the pandemic. We had a great discussion about the economic environment, a post-pandemic world, and the value of an MBA.
Economic Environment and Leadership
Solomon is optimistic about the medium-term prospects of returning to normalcy. He said that we have faced other challenges before. His worst memories are of seeing the devastation in Downtown Manhattan on 9/11. Despite the horrors of this pandemic, we need to move forward. He thinks that more economic stimulus is needed, but it should be more targeted and thoughtful than the $1.9 trillion package under discussion in Congress. Solomon thinks that future generations will pay the consequences of such a heavy debt load.
Solomon emphasized that a company needs to be led with purpose. Employees want a clear purpose and want to contribute to that purpose. Social impact is important. Solomon believes that companies should contribute broadly to the societies in which they operate. He is especially proud of an initiative that he spearheaded and announced in January 2020 – Goldman Sachs will not take a company public unless it has at least one woman or non-white member on its Board of Directors (two starting this year).
Solomon’s Opinion of an MBA
At my request, moderator Sara Eisen asked Solomon about the value of an MBA. Solomon said that one of his biggest personal regrets is that he didn’t go to business school. All of his peers found value in the personal growth they experienced during their MBAs. Solomon said that he highly recommends getting an MBA if you are fortunate enough to have that opportunity. You will be working for many years, so taking a couple years to build a personal network and develop life experiences is invaluable in his opinion (and ours too!).