The November issue of Bloomberg Markets profiles Edith Cooper, the global head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs. Cooper, an African-American woman, is most certainly an inspiration to other women (and minorities) looking to climb the bulge bracket investment banking ladder. A mother of three, Cooper attended Harvard, earned her MBA at Northwestern, then worked her way up the ranks at other banks (Bankers Trust and Morgan Stanley) before joining Goldman, where she became the co-head of its European commodities unit. Cooper was named a Goldman partner in 2000 (a year after the firm famously went public) and today, as the top HR employee at Goldman and one of the 30 members of its management committee, she's an outspoken supporter of the bank everyone loves to hate as of late.
One piece of advice she has for would-be Goldmanites is this: have more on your mind than money when applying (according to Bloomberg, only 2.2 percent of all applicants receive job offers from the firm). Cooper says, "When you are on the fifth version of something and working late, you are not going to have your paycheck piled up in front of you. What is going to keep you going is that you are interested in the business."
It's a fair point. Though, I'd argue, sitting at your cube at 4 a.m., for the 73rd night in a row, with no end to your work in sight, you're also apt to ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" And, likely, if you can't pull out a bank statement with six numbers to the left of the decimal point (and your name on it), you're apt to answer: "Hell no."