Akila Raman recommends to others: “Treat the senior people you work with as clients.”
Raman, who graduated with a degree in political theory and a certificate in finance from Princeton University, said she “found her home” in corporate derivatives at Goldman Sachs. She says of her decision to pursue a career at the firm, “I wanted to work at Goldman Sachs because I knew it was a very team-oriented culture.”
While she originally thought she would remain for only two years at Goldman Sachs, Raman stayed at the firm during the financial crisis and beyond.
“During the financial crisis I had a unique vantage point for observing the firm’s leaders coming together to adapt to changes and anticipate client needs,” said Raman. “As volatile markets became an increasingly important focus, our corporate hedging business became even more important for our clients, and I was ultimately asked to lead a joint risk management and debt financing effort.”
Hard Work Yields Results
After several years, Raman was named head of Natural Resources Debt Capital Markets and Risk Management within the Investment Banking Division. Reflecting upon her most significant client achievement, Raman cites her work advising Great Plains Energy, the local utility company in her Missouri hometown, on its merger with Westar Energy.
“Goldman Sachs was one of few banks that could have structured the Great Plains-Westar transaction given its unique complexities. We were able to bring together a variety of resources across GS and deliver comprehensive solutions, which ultimately resulted in value for our client and its stakeholders,” notes Raman. She continues, “Working on that transaction allowed me to form deeper relationships with the management team and also had a meaningful impact on the people in my hometown, making the deal extremely rewarding.”
Looking ahead, Raman is also interested in the effect of technology and renewables on the natural resources space. “We’re at a very interesting time in the energy space, particularly as energy policies globally are responding to changing dynamics due to technological advances, consumer preferences and investors’ ESG objectives,” says Raman. “I expect we’ll see the natural resources sector evolve over the coming years to adapt to these factors.”
Reflecting on her career, Raman, who was recently named a partner, said that being asked to join Goldman Sachs’ partnership was a career-defining moment. “As someone who began her career as a summer analyst looking up to senior bankers, being welcomed into the partnership was such an honor.”
Serving Clients Is a Priority
Raman is also keeping busy on several transactions that include complex financing and risk management solutions. She notes that Goldman’s involvement in these deals is a result of “many years of hard work and relationship-building in order to gain the trust of clients to be tapped as an advisor on these large-scale, intricate transactions.”
Raman places the same level of priority and focus when preparing deliverables for internal clients: “Treat the senior people you work with as clients – because they are,” advises Raman.
Carving Out Time for Your Passions
“Speak out, and don’t be afraid to have open lines of communication with your manager and your team around deadlines and deliverables,” recommends Raman. “Being able to carve out time for your own interests and your life is so important, especially as a junior team member.”
Outside of the office, Raman is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs: “I enjoy spending time investing in women-led companies. We don’t talk enough about wealth generation among women. I feel very passionately about having my investments reflect my values, and working towards making the next generation of entrepreneurs more diverse.”
In addition to investments she makes in her own time, Raman is also involved with Pursuit, a nonprofit that helps adults with the most need and potential receive technology training so they may get their first tech jobs and become the next generation of leaders in technology. Given many of Pursuit’s graduates are immigrants, this mission resonates with Raman, who is the daughter of Korean and Indian immigrants herself.
And, Raman makes sure to set aside plenty of time each week for her family. “No matter where I am each week, whether I’m in New York or traveling abroad, I always carve out time for my partner, and we try to make sure we have at least one kid-free evening together each week.”
She notes, “It’s important to make clear to my family that they are just as important to me as my career.” During this dedicated family time, Raman loves to experience New York’s parks and galleries with her husband and daughter, insightfully commenting, “It’s always a joy to experience New York through our daughter’s eyes.”