As part of our summer curriculum, we have the NYC Tech Immersion class, which is a blend of guest lectures, company visits and Stern solution group project. “What does this have to do with the title of this blog?”, you might have asked. Well, Marcus and the trading game were my favorite sessions during our visit to Goldman Sachs in Jersey City on Friday August 3rd as part of our class.
Before the visit I didn’t quite know what to expect besides the fact that GS is in the finance industry and that this was going to be one of the longer company visits (4 hours). Our afternoon started with a welcome note from Andrew Trout, the managing director of Human Capital Management, giving an overview of engineering at GS: 25% of the total global workforce and the mantra “challenge the status quo”. Then Sinead Strain from the FICC technology team talked to us about Marquee – the digital storefront for Goldman’s security division, and all the valuable lessons learned through the process of building Marquee, such as figuring out the proper business model, understanding the user persona and focusing on KPIs while creating the product.
Next we had Regina Lerit from the digital finance technology team talking to us about Marcus – their consumer banking product launched just a few years ago. Regina shared the growth story of Marcus with us, from the initial customer research, to the ideation and development of its MVP – personal loan platform, to its growth strategy. She even quizzed us about the name ‘Marcus’ and explained why this name was chosen. My favorite part of Regina’s presentation though, was how she explained the traditional waterfall vs. the agile framework of project development. She used our classmates sitting at a table as an example of multiple participants on the team and described the workflow of how they would improve the design of a water bottle had they been using waterfall vs agile methodology. The explanation was very clear and easily relatable. I think I am going to use the same way to explain the two frameworks in the future.
By this time, our class started to be a bit tired from all the presentations on a Friday afternoon: just in time for some highly interactive and fun activity – the trading game. Facilitated by two young and brilliant traders at GS, each group sitting at the table got to collectively decide the asset allocation among 4 stocks, the position we want to take (long vs short) and the opportunity to re-balance the allocation each quarter based on the macro-economic news and firm-specific news given in the simulated game. This got us all ignited and we even got to name our own team. From Fine-Ants, to Goldman Stacks, we got very creative. We had to discuss, calculate and decide how much we wanted to invest in each stock. We love to talk and our recent accounting and finance classes prepped us well. We had a lot of heated discussion on what the economic news meant, whether we should go long or short a company and how much to invest in each company. In the end every team was able to beat the average market return and the Goldman Stacks team made a whopping 60+% return over the course of 4 quarters (they had a CFA on their team so the other teams were playing with a competitive disadvantage)! This was before we learned the portfolio theory and importance of diversification in our finance class. I imagine our investment decisions will be different now.
The visit concluded with a Q&A panel with a few Stern Alumni on their experience at GS and a networking session with the panel. Everyone had a great time and we of course didn’t waste the amazing skyline view of Manhattan from Jersey City! (Photo credit: Isabel Izquierdo)