Goldman Sachs Managing Director Akhil Garg ’02 joined students and faculty in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration on May 10 for the final Alumni Roundtable of the school year. During his afternoon presentation, Mr. Garg discussed his current role in Goldman’s Structured Finance group within the Investment Banking Division and traced his career path in the financial services industry. He also offered timely advice to seniors whose graduation was just two weeks away, and shared insight into the finance industry with attendees, many of whom were members of the School’s investment club.
Mr. Garg entered New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business in 2002. A finance and marketing major, he credits his introduction to the financial services industry to a Blair connection: While attending a Blair alumni event as an NYU freshman, a conversation with Peter Reinhart, husband of former fine arts teacher Jennifer Reinhart, led to a summer job working on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange. “After that, I was hooked,” Mr. Garg acknowledged.
Throughout his college career, he continued to explore opportunities in the financial services industry by working summer jobs in the finance and accounting division of MetLife, and in the Mergers and Acquisitions group at Merrill Lynch and, finally, by interning at Goldman Sachs in 2005. He joined Goldman as an analyst upon earning his bachelor’s degree in 2006 and worked in the company’s Mortgage Department within the Securities Division. A member of the New York Society of Securities Analysts and CFA charterholder, Mr. Garg was named Managing Director in 2017.
He explained his job in Structured Finance in layman’s terms: “When consumers need to borrow money for, say, a student loan, they turn to a lending institution. My group is where that institution turns for dollars to make that loan.” Mr. Garg’s day-to-day work generally involves three overarching activities: advising companies on the best way to raise capital; lending and investing Goldman Sachs’ funds; and structuring and selling securities to clients that meet their specific needs.
When asked to describe a “typical day at the office,” Mr. Garg smiled as he replied, “I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and there is no ‘typical’ day. The industry is always changing and evolving. That’s why I love this job. I like to do a lot of different things, and, in my role, I advise companies, evaluate lending and investing opportunities, and work with my team, helping and teaching them along the way. The one constant is communication. We are always talking about what we are doing and seeing and the issues we are facing. There is a lot of email, too,” he advised, as heads nodded understandingly around the room. “Email management is a very important skill to learn early on.”
Mr. Garg spoke about different job opportunities in the financial sector, including those in legal, credit, operations, technology and sales roles, and he noted that people from many different backgrounds and college majors are in the industry. Asked about the skills students should develop to succeed in such jobs, Mr. Garg noted that he looks for two qualities in particular: Is the person coachable, meaning how quickly will he or she incorporate feedback into his or her work? And, does he or she have the positive attitude and drive needed to keep pace in a high-intensity environment?
Sharing final advice, Mr. Garg encouraged students to try different things, as he did, to figure out what they want to do in their professional lives. “You won’t know what will click until you try it,” he said. “Remember, too, that people are a big aspect of any organization. People make a community, like Blair, and they also make a company. If an opportunity that you think is perfect doesn’t turn out so well because of the people, don’t get discouraged. Try a variety of experiences, as you will learn and get something different from each one.”
Mr. Garg also shared one of the best takeaways of his Blair experience: the ability to manage his time. “Blair taught me that the best,” he laughed. “As a college freshman, I was already used to going to class six days a week, and my friends had never had that experience. My mom asked me early on if college was hard, and I told her sure, but not as hard as Blair!”
About Alumni Roundtables
Blair's Alumni Roundtable speakers' series connects today's students with prominent alumni across industries, giving soon-to-be graduates the opportunity to learn about different fields from experienced professionals.
Instituted in 2018 by Head of School Chris Fortunato, the Alumni Roundtable series welcomes Blair graduates of all generations to campus to speak about their careers and engage in question-and-answer sessions with students. Find out more about past and upcoming speakers, and please let us know if you would like to participate in a future event by contacting Director of Stewardship E. Courtnay Stanford at (908) 362-6121, ext. 5646, or email@example.com.