Nicolas Sarkis is a former star trader at Goldman Sachs and now a founding partner at the asset management firm AlphaOne. He recently shared his experiences getting his first job at Goldman in an interview with Spears Wealth Management Survey online.
According to Sarkis, he knew little about finance when he graduated from university, but was very persistent. He’d take notes after each interview and built a profile of what Goldman was looking for, hearing words such as “team player, “dedication” and “client focus” over and over. He also quickly discovered that Goldman was quick to knock the chip off the shoulders of anyone who’d gone to Harvard and Yale, and intentionally created an atmosphere of internal competition where no one ever felt secure.
Lebanese-born and educated in France, Sarkis endured four rounds of exhaustive interviews in London, before being flown to New York for the final interviews. This was back in 1992, when Goldman Sachs was still a private partnership, and even more difficult to break into, he says.
He had a total of 52 interviews before being offered a position. On the day of his final round, he witnessed a trader have a heart attack in front of the interviewees. It was a harsh introduction to life in the fast lane. But at age 21, and years younger than many of the other candidates, Sarkis was ready for the challenge.
“I knew that Goldman Sachs was out of reach for someone my age and with my qualifications; this is precisely what made it so exciting. I love trying to achieve things that seem very difficult or quasi-impossible; this is what makes life fun,” Sarkis said, in the Spears article.
“A lot of my friends tried to get interviews with bulge bracket firms and failed, so they immediately gave up. I sent a letter and I followed up with a call. I think that 80 per cent of success in life comes from showing up; it is amazing how quickly some people give up.”
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