Voice of Experience: Padideh Raphael, Partner, Goldman Sachs Hong Kong

pad By Cathie Ericson

“Know yourself and be assured of your sense of judgement. This will empower confidence in your decisions,” Padideh Raphael says, noting that this theme has resonated with her since childhood as her mom, a psychologist, raised her with an emphasis on trusting her own instincts, enabling confidence in her choices and encouraging decisive action. “This has been instrumental in allowing me to get to where I am today.”

Finding Her Niche

Although she graduated with a degree in neuroscience, when thinking about a career, Raphael realized that while she loved the field, she didn’t want to work in a lab or a hospital. A close friend recommended she think about finance, and after several rounds of interviews with Goldman Sachs, she began her career at the firm in Goldman Sachs Asset Management in institutional marketing.

Although it was a great introduction to Goldman Sachs, Raphael realized her skills might be better utilized in another part of the firm, and she took advantage of a planned move to London to look into other opportunities. After visiting the trading floor, Raphael immediately knew she belonged in the Securities Division. “I knew I would enjoy the fast-paced environment,” she says, and it’s what she’s done for the last 17 years. After serving as co-head of European Equity Derivatives Flow Sales in London, Raphael moved to Hong Kong three years ago to head Asia Pacific Equity-Derivatives Sales.

“It’s been great to see how markets differ across the world as I have worked in different regions throughout my career,” she notes. As she has gotten to know the Asia market, she views the evolving Chinese economy as the most interesting dynamic she expects to see in the coming years, as China begins to accept external investment to meet a tremendous demand.

Helping Other Women Reach Their Potential

Reflecting upon her career, Raphael pinpoints the moment when she realized she had become a role model for others as an achievement of which she is particularly proud. “As a younger professional, my neck was always craned, looking up to the leaders and drivers of our business and those who were experts at their craft,” Raphael says. “At some point I realized I was that person for more junior members of the group, which is a huge responsibility and one I take seriously.”

“I know I have to be thoughtful about the signals I send,” she says, especially in light of her role as one of the first female partners in international equities.

Her advice to women is to be bold and share your point of view at the onset of your career. “Put it all out there on the field every day,” recommends Raphael. “Women tend to wait for validation before sharing their opinion, but they should speak up earlier.”

Raphael is a first generation American, and her Iranian mom raised her without gender-related boundaries, which served as an important foundation throughout her childhood and into adulthood. “I believe there are no inherent barriers to success in this industry, but in some cases I have seen that women are traditionally raised or shaped to abide by societal norms,” she says.  “To the extent possible, women should be confident in having a place in the discussion.”

Family First at Work and Home

When Raphael went on maternity leave with her first child in London, the firm provided a childcare facility that was available for back-up but not full-time care. However, Raphael was determined that she didn’t want to leave her daughter at home, and told her manager that if she was to come back, she wanted to bring her daughter to work on a full-time basis.

“Goldman revamped the on-site child care policy, which was not only a huge vote of confidence and logistical support for me personally, but a testament to the organization in that they gave me the flexibility to arrange my childcare in a way that suited my family’s best interests.”
Raphael was thus able to come back from maternity leave best-positioned to strengthen her career, in part due to the wellness policies Goldman Sachs adopted.

“My family and my career are the two elements that are the defining points of my identity,” Raphael says. “My husband’s support has been instrumental in allowing me to pursue my career.” She notes that cultivating this type of partnership with one’s spouse is helpful when balancing both a family and career.

Raphael has recently rediscovered her love of reading, reinvigorating her passion for both neuroscience and history. She also describes herself as “mildly obsessed” with the history of the British monarchy, identifying parallels between societies. “The role of women in British royal society was very prescriptive, but even during that time period, there were ambitious women that did not allow societal norms to impede their success.”