TONY BEST: Bajan in key position at Goldman Sachs
THINK ABOUT WALL STREET and chances are Goldman Sachs, a global financial services firm with almost a trillion dollars in assets would come quickly to mind.
Founded in 1869, the corporate behemoth whose headquarters are in Manhattan and 34 000 employees scattered around the world, is the quintessential investment banking and asset management giant that makes money hands over fist.
Last year, its operating income was almost US$13 billion and its overall revenue was US$40 billion.
Five days a week, sometimes up to eight or nine o’clock in the evening, you can find Julia Clarkson in her office at the sprawling company.
The 50-year-old Bajan who commutes daily from her Long Island suburban home in Freeport to Goldman Sachs is a vice president in the investment banking division.
“I am a knowledge manager who does research for the bank’s clients on everything financial from A to Z,” she explained. “I have done research on the implications of the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. We have looked at the health care industry and assessed what it would look like a decade from now. We also answer questions about the performance of the soft drink industry, confectionary sector and the broad areas of food and education.”
The mother of six-year-old Eden has as her primary responsibilities, conducting qualitative analyses for investment banking professionals while her current duties as a knowledge manager in the consumer, retail and health care industry call for “performing niche research for sector bankers utilising specialty databases,” she pointed out.
The need for the information demands a quick turnaround, sometimes in a matter of hours for bankers anywhere in the world, from Hong Kong, South Africa and Sydney to Brazil, Mexico and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.
“I enjoy what I do,” she declared during a recent conversation.
Clarkson, the daughter of Everton Greenidge, a retired Wall Street municipal bond trader, and Sybil Greenidge, a nurse, traced her deep interest in global finance to the days when she was a child and her father took her to the office, long before it became fashionable for parents to take their children to their workplaces.
“It was a fascinating experience,” she recalled. “My dad was the only black person on the trading desk and that’s where it began for me.”
It was a natural progression when she graduated from high school and went off to university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Maryland at College Park and then onto Emory University in Atlanta to study for an MBA which she received in 1994.
Her first job after graduation was in market research, collecting and editing reports by analysts at a New York firm. Next she switched to the public finance division of Pryor, McLendon, Counts & Company, another New York company where she worked on the financing of new deals in the municipal finance industry. She joined Goldman Sachs in 1997 and has been there ever since.
“I work in a group at Goldman Sachs and on any day I can be called upon to answer questions from investment bankers anywhere in the world,” she explained. “The information they seek can be about investments in China, Singapore, Barbados, you name it.”
But that’s only a part of her life. Another key chapter deals with raising her daughter, Eden, in a way that she understands something about her Bajan roots.
Part of that includes sending her to camp in Barbados.
Clarkson has already declared that she has plans of retiring in Barbados.
Tony Best is the Nation’s North American correspondent.