Financial services leader Linnea Roberts shares sage advice for women starting their careers

Women’s Diversity Ambassador and Advisory Director in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs, Linnea Roberts, spoke to a packed room of mostly women students participating in the student investment funds across the 5Cs, over lunch at the Athenaeum, February 11.

In her talk sponsored by the Robert Day School, Roberts discussed her career in financial services and investment banking, sharing advice for students about to embark on their career, and reflecting on the advantages and challenges women face in the financial services industry and elsewhere.

Roberts’ advice for the students included:

  • Stay open-minded to opportunities-- “Some of the things I didn’t think were a good idea at the time ended up being some of the best decisions of my life,” she said.
  • Make a good first impression, including a firm handshake and eye contact
  • Remember names
  • Ask questions
  • Take chances
  • Be heard, offer opinions and say them with confidence
  • “Build your team,”—reach out to coworkers you don’t always work with
  • Manage expectations well
  • Be a good person to work with
  • Be part of the solution not the problem
  • “Don’t offer up reasons why you’re not as good as someone else.”
  • “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good… It’s okay to get a ‘B’ sometimes, and improve.”

For those interested in a career in investment banking, she said, in addition to financial aptitude, ambition and good people skills are valuable. 

Some of the things she loves about investment banking are the high caliber of professional in the field, its unpredictability, how “everyone wants to do a good job,” and the constantly changing nature of the industry.

Women in the financial services industry, according to Roberts, have the advantage of being good listeners, tend to be emotionally aware, are compassionate, loyal, and are excellent at synthesizing information and multitasking.

Roberts said that in her experience, women employees are usually lost not to competitors but to their other priorities, such as family. She suggested flexibility on the part of bosses and employers when dealing with personal/family matters, including maternity leave.  She encouraged women professionals to not skimp on maternity leave to impress an employer.

Roberts is an advisory director to Goldman Sachs, focused on recruiting and mentoring in the Investment Banking Division in the Americas, with a particular focus on women professionals. She joined Goldman Sachs as a partner in 2004 and served as co-head of Technology within the global Technology, Media and Telecom Group through 2011.

Prior to joining the firm, Roberts was co- head of Lehman Brothers’ Global Technology Group from 2001 to 2004. Before joining Lehman Brothers in 1990, she was assistant controller of OroAmerica from 1987 to 1988 and a senior auditor for Price Waterhouse from 1984 to 1987.

Roberts serves on the Advisory Council of The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, the Board of Directors of Valparaiso University, the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Board of New Leaders, the New York Board of Directors of Teach for America, and the Ambassadors Council of Grassroot Soccer.

She earned a BS in Accounting and Computer Science from Valparaiso University in 1984 and an MBA from The University of Chicago. She is married to CMC Trustee George Roberts ’66 P’93.