In this series of posts, Influencers explain how their career paths might have changed. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #RoadNotTaken in the body of your post).
Last month I turned 50, and when you mark a milestone like your 50th birthday, the celebrations are often accompanied by moments of reflection and introspection. I was no exception, and therefore it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered this month’s Influencer topic. LinkedIn asked, “What was the road you didn’t take in your career? What was the path you didn’t choose?”
So I sat down with a big cup of coffee and asked myself, “What if I hadn’t left Goldman Sachs in 2002?” I imagined where I might be now, 12 years later, and perhaps more interestingly, knowing who I am now and what I now know, what if I had become a part in the corporate story of a financial services firm that became the leading financial services firm for women? What would that firm look like?
First, allow me to frame my history at Goldman to outline where I was at the time of my leaving over a decade ago. I loved Goldman Sachs and my career there, and judging by my career trajectory at the firm, they appeared to love me as well. I started as an analyst in 1988, before becoming a…
I was not born into wealth. I grew up in a small town in British Columbia, Canada, never imagining that one day I would work on Wall Street, let alone Goldman Sachs. In 1996, after eight years at Goldman, I became the youngest woman and the firm’s first female trader to make partner. “Youngest woman” and “first female”—labels like these are often attached to successful women, and my instinct has always been to embrace labels, not reject them. I was privileged to have been handed not just the Goldman paycheck, but a platform to boot. With that platform, I was determined to change the firm’s approach to diversity.
In 1999, Goldman went public, and with the resulting windfall, my husband (who made partner at Goldman the same year I did) and I created a family foundation. Suddenly, I had a new label: woman philanthropist, which I found more difficult to embrace. There were few high-profile women philanthropists back then. However, for those first few years, I didn’t think about it too much, because I was focused on raising my family, doing my demanding job well, and championing diversity at work. I was what one might call a “checkbook philanthropist.”
In 2002, I left Goldman. I’m often asked why. Primarily, I wanted to use my time, treasure and talent to make more of an impact on the lives of girls and women…
I love Wonder Woman. I’m not talking about a casual affection. I LOVE Wonder Woman. I’ve collected her memorabilia for years, and I have a room in my house where I display it all. I call it my Ode to Wonder Woman. I’ve oftenspoke about my love for this character and my frustration with Hollywood over its inability to get a Wonder Woman movie made. The top grossing film of the year so far is a superhero movie featuring a talking racoon and an anthropomorphic tree and we still don’t get a Wonder Woman movie?! It’s enough to make me crazy.
However, instead of going crazy, I decided to try and do something about it. Last year I released a report titled Why No Wonder Woman?, which was the culmination of two years worth of writing and research. The report chronicled the history of Wonder Woman in print and in other media, as well as the history of superhero films in general, and acted as a call to action to Hollywood to get their act together. And it wasn’t just me who had picked up on this glaring omission from Hollywood’s current love affair with movies based on comic book characters. Publications such as