David M. Solomon: Navigating A World In Transition

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In the fierce, digitally-stoked competition of today’s corporate climate, leaders who thrive must be visionaries—able to foresee how their companies, our societies, and the world can best seize the opportunities of rapid change and minimize friction on the path forward. Seeing around corners has never been a more critical skill. How can executives best guide their firms to inspire employees, delight customers, and reward investors as the political and business landscape shifts day after day? Gain strategies from the leadership of major corporations for succeeding in the age of disruption.

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David M. Solomon


Robert Smith - Founder, Chairman and CEO, Vista Equity Partners


Claire Hughes Johnson - Chief Operating Officer, Stripe

David M. Solomon - President and Chief Operating Officer, Goldman Sachs

John Thompson - Chairman, Microsoft

Mark Weinberger - Global Chairman and CEO, EY

Devin Wenig - President and CEO, eBay

David M. Solomon - View From The Top: Navigating A World In Transition

YouTube video


So I appreciate that. Like all businesses you know Goldman Sachs it's an industry that's been affected by technology that is being disrupted and it's changing very quickly. The balance for any business in thinking about these things is to hold onto your legacy businesses. You know Wall that changes is coming. But make sure that you create an environment that's conducive to innovating entrepreneurial kind of change and building businesses around those shifts. I think the changes have gone on in our business have gone out over a long period of time. It's not something that's just recent but it's compounding it it goes fast you look at the equity trading business for example you go back 15 20 years. We would have had a Goldman Sachs we would have had 500 people making markets and stocks prices and stocks you know every single day. Today we have three. It's all done off technology platforms. But those businesses continue to change. So you know the secret is you know how do you how do you navigate the arc of going from a business that's that's analog to a technology platform as businesses have now been on technology platforms for a long time. How do you adapt to changes that your clients and customers need in the interface with the products and services that they require.

It requires a lot of investment and it requires ballots and you know we don't we don't always get it right but we're very focused on trying to be nimble try to be entrepreneurial try to be flexible making sure we have that expertise to both serve our clients but see around corners and see where it's going. So one of the things we asked a lot is all right we see where it is now where is it going to be in five years. Where is it going to be in seven years. And are we making the appropriate investments in appropriate shifts to serve our quiet day over that period. So talk I want to give a little more granular when you say a we have to understand the narrative and how this arc is going to change talked about in a management committee what are you doing differently how is it different now than it was five years ago or eight years ago. Well you have the mix of people you have in an organization like ours you know changes significantly. You know one of the things that's very different for us is that we have 9000 engineers inside Goldman Sachs. We employ 37000 people around the globe. We have 9000 engineers if you go about 15 years ago we didn't have anywhere close to you know 9000 engineers and if you actually look at the headcount of the organization the headcount at the organization really hasn't grown but the mix of people has shifted lots of engineers by the way regulatory shift in our industry. Lots of people to deal with regulatory requirements but lots of things that required people right now are now done off platforms you still need very very very very good people to put this all together. But we think about you know technology we talk a lot about how technology allows us to connect better with our clients how technology empowers our people or how technology can differentiate us.

And we're big believers in the fact that great human capital married with world class technology connected to your clients your customers in whatever it is that you're serving is still very very effective. I understand about 18 years ago one brilliant chemical engineer leave your employ but we'll talk about how people. He was he was a brilliant chemical engineer. You wish he was still at Arthur. We were excited for his success. We appreciate all that you say. Clara looks talk a bit about your 10 years at Google and I mean one of the centers of innovation as it relates to this new economy this fourth industrial revolution had been the pioneers. You left this large organization and said Let me go start on something new and something different. Talk about why you made that decision point everyone and why are so excited about what you're doing a strike. Yeah. You know when I joined Google it wasn't so large when I left. You're right it was almost 60000 people which was a pretty exciting 10 years to be a part of a Google. The fundamental innovation was sort of figured out fairly early on and then the monetization for that product and a lot of what I worked on were the next sort of horizons of growth in cash flow and I think the key with that kind of a project is knowing when to leave it alone and knowing when to bring it into it. The core work you do.

The reason that I laughed and the reason that strive is exciting to me is something that I think we may end up talking about which is you know there's a lot of capital out there but there's not a lot of developers. There's a real what I think of as the developer divide and the talent that you need to really build for the future is not readily available. And I think it's a huge issue. I think it's saying Devin the company thinks about we think a lot about and what stripe is doing is really developer tools and infrastructure. And I think what companies of all sizes have to get used to is sort of using API application programming interfaces to leverage developer expertise outside of their core business. And we're seeing you know everyone from sales forces and Facebook working with us to lift her Kickstarter or even really very small companies. There's finally taking advantage of Internet platforms. I think we need more of that. If we're going to actually realize the opportunity Yeah that's why I think we'll talk a little bit later about platforms and ecosystems as the new paradigm of business. John let's flip to you and talk about how Microsoft is in quote unquote a constant stage of innovation and what you believe is important and required to ensure that these incumbents remain relevant not only from a hiring perspective but frankly from leading to technology and eco systems going forward. While I don't think anyone would have anticipated in 2014 that Microsoft would be where it is today. Forget about stock price. More importantly in my mind is the perception that the market has of the company and its ability to deliver innovation in a very meaningful way that would not be the case were it not for a very humble but very technically grounded leader in Satya Nadella.

Now that being said one of the big issues that our industry faces that I think we all have to come to terms with is all about privacy and this industry is going to be severely impacted.

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