“Develop great friendships at work, across the industry and at every level,” recommends Paget MacColl, Partner at Goldman Sachs. “If you’re working with people you have a strong relationship with every day, work is more rewarding and certainly more enjoyable,” she says.
Through both formal and informal networking, MacColl says she has developed deep, lasting relationships, which she notes are critical to advancing one’s career. She stresses that networking outside the firm can be more challenging but is equally important.
Achieving Success and Sparking Other Young Women’s Ambition
MacColl began her career in Goldman Sachs’ Securities Division Debt Capital Markets Group, which offered broad exposure to various types of investments and clients. In her third year at the firm in 2001, she moved into the Investment Management Division and joined the Alternative Capital Markets Group. Growing on that team, she came to co-lead the group and oversaw fundraising for private equity funds and other alternative investments, a space that experienced tremendous growth from 2001 until 2007. “It was an exciting time to be in this group because of the huge growth in the alternative investment industry. I got to see the height of the market, and then after the financial crisis, I saw the depths that the industry reached. Both provided great learning opportunities.”
In 2012, MacColl took a brief hiatus from the firm to work for a client, a former Goldman Sachs colleague, where she quickly realized that life outside of Goldman Sachs is very different. “The grass is not always greener,” she said. “I call it my five-month dose of perspective.” Due to strong relationships with mentors and sponsors, she returned to Goldman Sachs. Upon her return, MacColl was asked to build out an institutional capital markets team within the Investment Management Division. In this role, she works with investment teams and institutional sales, leading fundraising campaigns for various investing strategies.
In addition, she now oversees the middle-market sales team in GSAM as well as the firm’s relationships with global investment consultants, which she says is an exciting challenge given their high level of sophistication and intricate relationships. “It’s an interesting dynamic; we need to work with consultants collaboratively, yet sometimes we compete with one another.”
MacColl says being named partner is the professional achievement she is most proud of since beginning her career as an analyst. An active mentor and sponsor to other women, she has also been involved in recruiting. “I love seeing the spark in young women’s eyes as they think, ‘I can do that too.’”
Be Master of Your Career
MacColl says it’s important for younger professionals not to assume that managers and decision makers are aware of their career aspirations. “Communication is imperative. You need to communicate what you want and obtain the feedback you need to move forward,” she reminds women. “Finding great mentors, sponsors and friends you trust at work is critical to this, but it’s also important that you’re prepared for and make yourself open to receiving the toughest feedback.”
She also advises women not to be afraid to ask questions. “I learned so much about my career and potential career trajectory, as well as about the firm and how my colleagues viewed me while I was leaving the firm. When I returned, I realized there were so many questions I hadn’t asked the first time around. This is your career and your future and the onus is on you to ask those questions.”
Creating a Village Inside and Outside of Work
MacColl currently heads the Firmwide Women’s Network, which is comprised of 6,000 people in the Americas, 25 percent of whom are men. She is also a member of the Governance Board of the Wall Street Women’s Alliance, a group of senior women leaders at financial firms that come together to foster commercial outcomes, but also provide mentorship and best practices to one another. “It is a network of women I truly value,” she notes.
She also believes that women can be their own toughest critics and they have to remember that it’s impossible to do everything perfectly as they take on more responsibility and become more senior, often while simultaneously raising a family.
“I frequently see women put pressure on themselves to achieve ‘perfection’ in every aspect of their lives, which can be isolating and destructive. When you share your challenges with others, you realize everyone is facing similar issues and it makes you more accessible and helps you reframe your own reality. You can’t possibly do it all, and you have to remind yourself it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Her strong family life is bolstered by longevity: she met her husband, who works at Credit Suisse, in college. In addition to two daughters, aged ten and five years old, they have an eight-year-old son.
In an engaging example of the adage, “It takes a village,” they live near their tight-knit families, including her two sisters who live on her same street. “My husband’s siblings and my sisters have kids that are all of similar ages. As you can imagine, we spend a ton of time together,” she says. “We’ve created our own village and are fortunate that ours is family, but I’ve come to realize that anyone who wants a long and successful career needs to find a community of people who can support them.”