From the monthly archives:

December 2009

Though he now represents the public face of Wall Street, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, started out with humble beginnings, growing up in a public housing project in Brooklyn and attending public schools.

Blankfein is profiled in a recent article in the Financial Times online, where he was chosen Person of the Year by the paper.

He attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where he gained a scholarship and attended Harvard as both an undergrad and law student. Blankfein’s first job was as a lawyer for Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine. He spent four years with the firm, including two years advising Hollywood companies on tax law, where his interest in finance grew.

Both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley turned him down when he applied for his first investment banking job. Blankfein wound up working for the commodities trading firm of J. Aron, which was later acquired by Goldman, providing a back door entry into Goldman. From there, Blankfein worked his way up the trading side of Goldman, as that division contributed an ever-growing share of the firm’s revenues. He became chief executive in 2006, when Hank Paulson was appointed Treasury secretary.

Friends and rivals attribute Blankfein’s success to his smart, engaging, high-energy and quick-witted style. “Lloyd is an extremely rapid learner and exceptionally adaptable. He pretty much sees the world as it is, rather than as he’d like it to be,” says Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, who is quoted in the article.

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It’s uncomfortable going back to the contacts on your network a second or third time if you haven’t yet landed a job. This discomfort prevents many investment banking job candidates from fully utilizing their network, according to a recent post in the Wall Street Journal blogs.

But if your job search is taking longer than you expected, you have to go back to them. The key to doing this successfully is threefold, says career expert John Crant of First, set expectations the first time you speak to anyone. Mention that you may call them again in the future. Lay the foundation for future calls.

Second, keep in mind that your call should be a two-way street. Sure you’re calling them to get a lead on a job or a way to get an interview at a firm. But what’s in it for them? What can you offer of value? Crant suggests doing a bit of digging and offering them some useful tidbit of information, an interesting or related article about their field or their company, or even some information that may be of personal interest.

Finally, never leave a message that you are “just following up” on a previous call. This just creates guilt in the person at the other end. Instead, if you have to leave a phone message, mention or hint at whatever it is that you have uncovered that may be of interest to them.

It’s vital to think of your network not as a one-time tool while you are hunting for a job. But as an ongoing resource that you will nurture throughout your career. After all, one day, you may be in a position to give them valuable contacts and information.

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In a sign that better market conditions may be just around the corner, Piper Jaffray Cos. says it’s hiring about 60 investment bankers for its M&A advisory and capital-raising business.

The hirings will take place globally, among the firm’s offices in the U.S., Hong Kong, London and Shanghai. Piper Jaffray has roughly 1,100 employees worldwide as was founded back in 1895, according to a story from Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Duff says business activity is building up after a “virtual shutdown in capital markets” last year. Mergers and acquisitions advisory work has lagged substantially in the past 12 months. Bloomberg pegs it as a 33 percent fall-off in global M&A, to $1.6 trillion in activity in 2009. However, a 49 percent rise in the S&P 500 this year has sparked a demand for new shares and spurred $66 billion in new IPOs.

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Salaries Jump for Some Investment Banking Jobs

December 7, 2009

What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months after many banks were drawing up lists of people to fire, now those lists are more likely to identify the star staff they want to lavish bonuses on. Here is the City reports that many investment banking firms are being proactive about retaining their best employees […]

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