The new leader at Goldman Sachs

A Hamiltonian who has been known to espouse the benefits of his liberal arts education — and who spins electronic dance music — has been named the new head of the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. The Wall Street investment firm announced earlier this summer that David Solomon ’84, P’16 will become its chairman and chief executive officer.

He will replace the retiring Lloyd Blankfein, who will step down as CEO on Sept. 30 and as chairman of the board at year’s end. Solomon’s appointment had been expected since March when he became sole president and COO. The changing of the guard, a Bloomberg story said, “sets in motion one of the most significant succession plays on Wall Street.” 

 A story in The New York Times observed, “The selection of Mr. Solomon marks a cultural change at Goldman Sachs. He is an investment banker rather than a trader in a culture that has been dominated by trading for much of the past decade.” The Washington Post referred to him as Goldman’s “culture guy,” who worked to improve the working hours of the firm’s younger employees.

Bloomberg, The Times, The Post, and many other media outlets were unable to resist reporting how Solomon regularly takes on gigs as a DJ under the name DJ D-Sol, spinning tunes at clubs and elsewhere. Pursuing that passion for music, Solomon said during a September 2017 podcast produced by Goldman, has been important to his career success over the long haul.

 “One of the things I’ve thought about a lot is to do this for a long time and do it successfully, you need energy. And it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. And so if you can’t find a way to have passions and pursue those passions, and mix them into your professional life and your personal life in some way, shape, or form, it’s just harder to have the energy to keep on doing this and to keep moving forward professionally,” Solomon said. “And by the way, it’s not just our business. The world is extremely competitive; the world’s extremely fast paced.”

He told the interviewer that he’s always loved music, and back in college he was an analog guy who must have owned a thousand LPs. In the same interview, Solomon talked about his great experience at Hamilton and the importance of the communication and thinking skills he learned on the Hill. Solomon is a charter trustee of the College, and his daughter Caroline graduated from Hamilton in 2016.

When Blankfein announced July 17 that Solomon would succeed him, he said Solomon has shown that he “plays the long game.” “He’s patient, he’s deliberate, disciplined, and, for the most part, mostly right — except for the times we disagreed,” Blankfein said, drawing a laugh from the crew assembled for the quarterly meeting of Goldman managing directors. “And very importantly, he’s been a very great partner for all of us.”

The people and culture of Goldman Sachs set it apart, Solomon told the gathering, and the firm succeeds because it has embraced change, anticipated change, and, at times, created it through its innovative culture. “My job is to extend and maintain that precious legacy. When I think about the talent in this organization, the power of the franchise, the abilities of this firm, I’m hugely confident about the future for all of us and look forward to all that we can accomplish together.”

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