How the Heck do you become a VP of Technology of Goldman Sachs?

Alright I've looked everywhere on WSO and Google and haven't found anything regarding tech position promotions at ibanks. I just looked up the "VP of Technology" avg salaries on GlassDoor for Goldman Sachs and they range around $120k -220k+ which is pretty good for what I want to achieve.

But I'm guessing these guys most likely have math/quantitative degrees from college and aren't doing much regarding actual investment banking? All I've done so far is research ibanking tracks and typical quant tracks, but I have never been able to find much on the tech track at ibanks. $200k sounds like a pretty good deal to me, and (im guessing here), the hours aren't as bad as ibanking?

Can ANYONE just give me some insight on how guys in tech positions at ibanks advance in ranks? Particularly how does one achieve VP of Technology? Do you need an MBA? What's the typical track? (like 1st Yr Analyst > 2nd Year > 3rd Year > 1 yr Associate, etc...)

Also, are there any positions above VP Technology? Are there Managing Directors in the tech departments? What are the salaries like? And around what age do most tech guys make VP Technology? Hours? Are there more office politics involved?

Thanks a bunch! Any sort of responses will save me some headaches. I'm sure there are some people who've been wanting this information for a while now as well.

Comments (23)

Aug 7, 2010

you mean like working in IT?

Aug 7, 2010

Start as an Analyst in Technology and work your way up.

Aug 7, 2010

is it the same progression as investment banking analysts? do you need an MBA or an MS in Computer Science?

Aug 7, 2010

You need to beat the office highscore on Brickbreaker.

You know you've been working too hard when you stop dreaming about bottles of champagne and hordes of naked women, and start dreaming about conditional formatting and circular references.

Aug 7, 2010
Zweihander:

You need to beat the office highscore on Brickbreaker.

Reply of the day right here. Fawking lolz.

Aug 7, 2010

somewhere on the web there must be a site called IT-Oasis dedicated to worshipping the IT positions at the I-banks.

Aug 7, 2010
Guest1655:

somewhere on the web there must be a site called IT-Oasis dedicated to worshipping the IT positions at the I-banks.

hahah

Aug 9, 2010

Step one: Travel back in time and be born in India...take it from there.

On a more serious note...I doubt too many people on this site have any interest in how to advance on the IT side of the house (although I could be wrong).

I know you were referring to IBs in general so this seems like a good place to get an answer, but you might be better served by finding that "IT Oasis" that was mentioned above. There's an abundance of knowledgable people on this site, but most of them will have no clue what the answers to your specific questions are (although dorsia did a rather great job). Good luck.

Regards

Aug 9, 2010

I can answer that. I've been there.

You work like crazy as a developer for a couple years, eventually get assigned your own system. In the meantime, you are developing a reputation as the guy who helps folks out at 9 PM on Friday night and actively challenges folks' assumptions about what's possible and what's not in a nice, respectful way. Higher-ups in other groups say you're smart and have management written all over you for a few years.

Eventually, you get your own system, start training your own developers. And one day, you go into your manager's office and say, "I have the responsibilities of a VP and here are 10 SVPs in the front-office and other groups that would strongly support me if you nominated me for the title."

Your manager looks at your responsibilities, looks at your accomplishments, and looks at the list of referrers you give him. He raises his eyebrows, tells you he's got to think long and hard about this- it takes a lot of political capital to nominate someone, and it's not capital he spends lightly when there's two other guys in the group that he's gotta promote in the next couple of years. You think you hear him mutter, "It's finally come. A year later than I expected."

He closes the door, calls up a few of them that he knows well and says, "This might sound a little crazy, but I just had ____ come into my office and ask for a promotion to VP. He's only a third or fourth year, but I'm wondering if he might have a point when it comes to his responsibilities. He listed you as a potential referrer, so I wanted to get your take on this."

Hopefully, the referrer will come back and say, "I was wondering when you were going to call me about this. Actually, I was pissed off last year when that bozo ____ got promoted but your guy didn't even get nominated. He's great- I'd be thrilled to support him."

Nine more phone calls and incredibly enthusiastic responses later, and your SVP comes back to you and says, "I've thought long and hard about it and debated it with myself, and I'm probably going to make a buffoon of myself for nominating a third year, but I'm going to give it a shot and lobby like crazy for you- I'm not sure how your referrers are going to think about your nomination if I don't. This means, though, that I'm going to have to give most of your bonus to the other members of the team to keep them happy while I'm lobbying for you- whether you get the title or not."

Your boss closes the door to his office and laughs to himself about what a shrewd politician he is. The title's in the bag, it looks just as good for him as it does for you, and somehow, he has you convinced that he's doing YOU a HUGE favor and that he's going to have to pull massive political strings to have a shot at it. What a bunch of naive suckers he's got who work for him- they'll never know he just pocketed half your (substantial- this is analytics/ trader facing technology, after all) bonus for the year just by making three phone calls and signing a paper. "Looks like the Mrs. is gonna get the new kitchen she's been asking for this year, after all!", he mutters to himself.

Sometimes, there will be a case where some politically-connected guy who's not performing at the level of VP needs to get promoted- and your MD wants to starve the candidate field to ensure he gets his guy through on the argument of "If you don't promote him, we won't get any VP promotions this year." Your SVP will inevitably come back to you looking really despondent- almost as if he won't be able to buy that new Jaguar he's been planning on buying this year- and cite some odd-sounding external explanation as the reason- but five quick minutes of asking other folks under your MD will usually give you a good hint as to what's REALLY going on. If that happens to you, you need to find an internal opening in the front office, go back to your referrers, and ask them if they'd be willing to help pull for you. If they like you as much as you think they do, they'll be pissed off that you got a raw deal, say your MD doesn't deserve you, and be ready to stand by as a reference in case anyone from the FO calls.

This process is actually pretty similar in research, quant analytics, risk management, and other pocket-protector areas of the firm that may or may not be considered front office but involve a lot of smart people who can't directly point at a pile of money and claim that they brought it in on their own. VP is supposed to be an ever so slightly political process that turns out to largely involve a hilarious level of politics that are mostly beyond your control. At the end of the day, it's less about your political connections and more about the quality of your work and whether your MD needs to get his nephew approved by the promotions committee without a lot of scrutiny.

Aug 9, 2010

if ur going to go that route why not do HR at goldman sachs? u talk to kids all day and party it up and you also make 200k as a VP. 0 coding or math required.

Aug 9, 2010

Because HR is a lot more fungible than technology. Anybody who has above-average people skills can work in HR, but when it comes to working in technology, there's not a lot of people who can replace you easily after you've been there for a year.

I survived a market crash, my firm capitulating, and even openly stating to a lot of people that the CIO was costing the firm boatloads of money without ever seriously thinking that I was going to get laid off or even have my career seriously impacted (aside from maybe helping to change the CIO's ways). In the meantime, I was compensated on roughly the same level as most research and capital markets guys. I don't think you can find anyone at a BB who can say the same thing- whether they work in HR, trading, research, or banking.

Product-specific technology is a great place to spend a few years if you're getting hired in as a developer. Keywords here are a few years, product-specific and developer. You spend 2 years working your butt off to develop a strong reputation, and then 1-2 more years rolling the political dice if you want. In reality, if you have the kind of reputation that gives you the opportunity to make a serious run for VP in your second, third, or even fourth year, you're probably a good candidate to work in the front-office somewhere.

Aug 9, 2010

"but when it comes to working in technology, there's not a lot of people who can replace you. "

stopped reading there. have you heard of india? perhaps china? i used to hire them for 9.99 an hour to make my website BOIIIII

"In the meantime, I was compensated on roughly the same level as most research and capital markets guys. I don't think you can find anyone at a BB who can say the same thing- whether they work in HR, trading, research, or banking. "

Did you work in GS? If not, then don't talk because I have (IMD front office) and even I made less than ER and capital markets. IT at GS = comic book guy from simpsons. Go ask about gary.

Finally, maybe they did things differently at citi or whever you were but GS doesn't take IT into the front office. Anyone who says different doesn't know GS and has never worked there.

Aug 9, 2010
boutiquebank4life:

stopped reading there. have you heard of india? perhaps china? i used to hire them for 9.99 an hour to make my website BOIIIII

Yes. Your website probably has a number of bugs you haven't found yet, is incapable of handling stuff on the scale of a typical pricing system, and does not involve pricing callable floating rate corporate bonds, aggregating caches, or even dealing with rates curves. Your developer probably also doesn't have a system where he can reliably make a bug-free release as a result of changing market conditions in just a few hours.

If you want to run any kind of product-specific technology on an enterprise scale that can respond quickly to the markets (we're talking getting a release out in a couple hours when an assumption in the pricing model is violated or something goes wrong), you've got to find the commandos of the programming world- not the henchmen that you can pick up off the street. If you're a developer who's getting an offer to work on the pricing system, the bank thinks you're pretty solid in your programming abilities.

They contemplated picking up a few positions in India a couple times. At the end of the day, we hired guys a few years out of IIT for- you guessed it- about the same as we'd pay here. That's the kind of developer it takes to run a good product-specific system in technology, and there's not all that many of us who are interested in finance rather than, say, Google or IBM.

Finally, maybe they did things differently at citi or whever you were but GS doesn't take IT into the front office. Anyone who says different doesn't know GS and has never worked there.

You're right. This isn't GS. That said, a couple of the guys on the trading team I work with started in GS technology. They hire a lot of bright guys in from MIT, CMU, etc who got 1580s on the SATs but never realized what a corporate bond was until their senior year when it's too late.

After you make it a year or two into the associate level, there's a big difference in the net compensation. But for the first couple years, it's pretty similar across the board in all of the groups that need to be relatively competitive. Maybe IMD wasn't one of them, but research, product technology, and sales and trading certainly were at the BB I worked for.

In any case, I was responding to the question about how the promotion process works. And it's largely the same across most of the BBs in technology. Titles are usually transferable for that very reason.

Aug 9, 2010
IlliniProgrammer:
boutiquebank4life:

stopped reading there. have you heard of india? perhaps china? i used to hire them for 9.99 an hour to make my website BOIIIII

Yes. Your website probably has a number of bugs you haven't found yet, is incapable of handling stuff on the scale of a typical pricing system, and does not involve pricing callable floating rate corporate bonds, aggregating caches, or even dealing with rates curves. Your developer probably also doesn't have a system where he can reliably make a bug-free release as a result of changing market conditions in just a few hours..

My F'n brain can't even do that.

Regards

Aug 9, 2010

"Maybe IMD wasn't one of them, but research, product technology, and sales and trading certainly were at the BB I worked for."

Traders make the same as IT at your bb? I find that hard to believe. In any case, this thread is about GS which I felt obligated to comment on and I can assure you IT didn't make much at GS. There are some smart people there from MIT but it doesn't mean you should consider it over front office.

Aug 9, 2010
boutiquebank4life:

"Maybe IMD wasn't one of them, but research, product technology, and sales and trading certainly were at the BB I worked for."

Traders make the same as IT at your bb? I find that hard to believe. In any case, this thread is about GS which I felt obligated to comment on and I can assure you IT didn't make much at GS. There are some smart people there from MIT but it doesn't mean you should consider it over front office.

I obviously can't give anything concrete on the compensation situation, but everyone in the industry knows that the market rate for a strong product-specific developer with a knowledge of algorithms, enterprise-scale computing, numerical methods, probability, and differential equations runs well into six figures within just a year or two if it doesn't already start there. I don't know why GS would be lower- maybe the name means they can get away with paying a moderate discount to the going rate.

There's a reason people turn down a six figure/year 40 hour/week at Google on the West Coast that offers the promise of a nice, easy life and instead put up with NYC, 70 hour workweeks, and the stress of dealing with the markets. I'll give you a hint- it rhymes with honey.

Aug 9, 2010

I know people who support trading desks, they describe it as getting bitched by traders when things go broke. Also hitting 6 figures is not that difficult. Pre-Recession offers were 80K+ all in (base + signing bonus), add 5K-7K bonus you'd have been pretty close to 100K. The difference is making the leap from 100K to 200K. As a very specialized person, you might be able to do pretty good. But in general, I'd rather like to think of an average guy in a profession rather than an oddball.

Also, in general the track is something like this:
Analyst (2-3 Years) -> AVP (2 - ?? Years) -> VP -> Director -> MD. After VP, there is generally a logjam. Experienced hires seemed to crowd Director and up level rather than home grown talents (maybe people switched jobs to move up). But there are Directors in late 20s-early 30s (who came from outside, often consulting). This is from my observation in one of the BBs few years ago.

Aug 10, 2010

"There's a reason people turn down a six figure/year 40 hour/week at Google on the West Coast that offers the promise of a nice, easy life and instead put up with NYC, 70 hour workweeks, and the stress of dealing with the markets. I'll give you a hint- it rhymes with honey."

Don't know what you're talking about, most people who get google or a blue chip company will take it over banking anyday. Anyone decent in tech will go to silicon valley. The losers wanting to move to front office and can't get jobs in west coast end up in nyc striving away to move or go to business school.

Aug 10, 2010
boutiquebank4life:

Don't know what you're talking about, most people who get google or a blue chip company will take it over banking anyday. Anyone decent in tech will go to silicon valley. The losers wanting to move to front office and can't get jobs in west coast end up in nyc striving away to move or go to business school.

Well, my choices were Amazon, Google, and two BBs. I took the offer with one of the two BBs- they were offering me more money after the (hefty) bonus. Several of the folks in my analyst class made similar decisions.

If Google had a trading group, I would have gone and worked for Google Finance for a few years. (Still get calls from their recruiter once a month).

If you are passionate about algorithms, go get a PhD. If you really like finance, though, the right job in technology at a bank isn't a bad place to land. Ideally, get a job on one of the pricing systems.

I know people who support trading desks, they describe it as getting bitched by traders when things go broke.

Bottom line is this:

If your stuff doesn't break, the traders don't bitch at you.

Ok, they will bitch at you maybe five to ten times when they think something is wrong, but then you prove to them that you've got the right number and they've got it wrong. After about the tenth time, you take it all in stride by laughing at them a bit when they ask something silly, responding with uncomfortable questions like, "You're a bond trader. Shouldn't you know this better than the analytics guy?" and making snide remarks like, "What do you think is broken, this time, Jason?", and "I have 100 traders who need me to do my job. You represent 1% of that population, but your confusion about a basic concept like spreads now accounts for 15% of my work." Bottom line is that if one person is paying your salary, you don't have a right to talk back to him. If 100 people are paying your salary and one of them is wasting your time by being foolish, you've got a license to push back just as hard as he pushes you. After a few months of competence, pushback, and running quantitative circles around them, the smart traders know how to interact with you and the dumb ones at least know that it's easier to f--- with their TAs than it is to f--- with that darned analytics guy.

Aug 10, 2010

disagree with everything you say but we'll leave it at that. Google paid 83k base by the way, most at top tech schools like MIT took that over even ibanking, but of course the back office IT group is far above the pay and prestige of both ibanking and google.

no one is arguing that having any job is a "bad place to land" but we're comparing it to ibd and other top jobs. IT is looked down at everywhere and thats just a fact.

Aug 10, 2010
boutiquebank4life:

disagree with everything you say but we'll leave it at that. Google paid 83k base by the way, most at top tech schools like MIT took that over even ibanking, but of course the back office IT group is far above the pay and prestige of both ibanking and google.

At Illinois, starting pay for an undergrad was $95K in 2007 at Google. Amazon was $102K.

IT is looked down at everywhere and thats just a fact.

Yes, and that's part of the reason why the stronger programmers make so much money- they have to put up with it.

Aug 11, 2010
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Aug 12, 2010