Q&A: Goldman Sachs CFO visits Rutgers for Lecture Series
Rutgers is home to many well-known alumni, from "Sex in the City" actress Kristin Davis to "The Sopranos" actor James Gandolfini. Last Thursday, another successful alumnus paid a visit to the University.
Chief Financial Officer of Goldman Sachs Harvey Schwartz stopped by Rutgers for a CFO Lecture Series on Sept. 17. Schwartz shared his personal story in a recent Q&A conducted via email with The Daily Targum.
The Daily Targum: What made you interested in the financial industry?
Harvey Schwartz: I always had a general interest in finance, business and markets, which is why I chose to get a degree in economics at Rutgers.
DT: How did you become CFO of Goldman Sachs?
Schwartz: After working for two years at smaller brokerage houses, I joined Citicorp in 1989, where I worked in the firm's credit training program and developed a specialty in structuring commodity derivatives. I obtained a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University in 1996. After receiving my MBA, I joined J. Aron & Co., which was in the process of merging with Goldman Sachs, as a vice president in 1997. At Goldman Sachs, I was named managing director in 1999 and partner in 2002. I then became co-head of the Americas Financing Group within Investment Banking from June 2004 to November 2005. I was later named the head of North America Sales from November 2005 to 2007, eventually becoming the global head of Securities Division Sales from 2007 to February of 2008. My final role before becoming Goldman Sach’s CFO was as one of the global co-heads of the Securities Division from February 2008 to January 2013.
DT: What was your reaction when you became CFO?
Schwartz: I was, and continue to be, surprised and humbled by the opportunity to serve as the Chief Financial Officer of Goldman Sachs.
DT: What do you find are the most challenging aspects about being CFO?
Schwartz: The set of responsibilities is broad and deep. Given that reality, I have to rely on the advice, judgment and expertise of my broader team. Fortunately, the firm is filled with an abundance of talented and committed people, which leaves us well positioned to tackle the challenges of the role.
DT: How has your education at Rutgers prepared you for working at Goldman Sachs?
Schwartz: Obviously, Rutgers prepared me thoroughly from an academic perspective. I viewed my underlying academic foundation as being as strong as any of my peers. What Rutgers also provided was a community filled with “strivers” — people who were at the University not just because of their raw intelligence, but also because they just worked so hard to be there. They did it despite the various obstacles in their life — economic or otherwise. Through my time at Rutgers, I never felt entitled to success — I felt I had to strive for it. It was an important early lesson.
DT: What are the highlights of your time at Rutgers as an undergraduate student?
Schwartz: My freshman year economics class at Lucy Stone Hall and being a resident (assistant).
DT: What do you enjoy most about you career?
Schwartz: I enjoy the people, the pace, the challenge and the fact that it is always evolving.
DT: Who are some people in your life that have helped you become successful?
Schwartz: I have benefitted throughout my career from having numerous mentors, colleagues and friends. They have collectively played a significant role in my success
DT: How would you describe yourself as a person in five adjectives?
Schwartz: In five words, I’m uncomfortable talking about myself.
DT: What advice do you have for students hoping to find a career in the finance world?
Schwartz: My advice for students is to work hard, dream big and always do the right thing.