Vansh Gera from the Department of Chemical Engineering talks to Chennai36 about his insti life and dispenses some gyan about his placement experience at the investment bank and financial services company, Goldman Sachs.

Hi Vansh, so what do you do in Goldman Sachs?

I am in securities division. This is one of the four or five divisions of Goldman Sachs which they come to hire. In securities there are two main divisions: Equities and FICC (Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities). I am in Equities division under which I am working on structured products in Equity Derivatives business. My long term project is to calculate and optimize the capital required for derivative desk. Structured products are complex financial products made by combining different financial instruments like stocks, derivatives, loans etc. We combine financial instruments together and make a structured product as per the client’s requirement. There are other short term projects which I have worked on are creating Risk dashboards and Attributed equity calculation tool for Derivatives business.

How is the work culture in GS like?

People in GS are approachable and willing to help. You have to be proactive in order to develop your skills. You will be expected to work longer hours because the work requires you to liaise with offices across the globe and you are given a lot of responsibilities early in your career. People around you will be extremely smart, you’re expected to maintain that calibre. Also, colleagues are the most important source of knowledge. There are no fixed books, papers which will teach you how business in Goldman works.

People from analyst to partner level works very hard that you will amazed to see the level of passion for work. There are opportunities to travel abroad to meet your corresponding teams in NYC, LDN or HKG.

What activities did you do in your insti life?

Ans. I was in IAR throughout the four years. I joined as an editor in IITM-TV then became the head the following year. I went on to become  the head of Alumni Outreach team. Also, I had some other POR’s like saarang hospitality, Ecell, Chemclave etc. but I didn’t continue forward with them.

Goldman Sachs is a very sought after company for both placements and interns. Can you tell us how you built your profile for the placements and how placements work?

This question is important because your placement completely depends on your profile. GS has a test that is used for shortlisting candidates. The test has three sections, Maths which involves a lot of probability, Machine learning and Coding. You have to perform the best in two of the three exams. GS comes for four to five divisions; which are compliance which is fraud detection, technology which deals with hard core tech. The others are risk and securities. Compliance and technology are a lot about coding and will test your coding and machine learning part whereas securities and risk will look at your math part & ML part. I did well in the math & ML so I got shortlisted for securities & risk both. The maths portion of the test is little more difficult compared to other companies. You have to solve ten or eleven question in 2.5 hours. Most of the math part is probability and stochastic processes(the second part of the probab course). Then there are questions from linear algebra and few maybe from geometry, calculus or general puzzles. Even in the ML part, you’re tested on the maths behind ML, you are not expected to code.

Once you clear the test, they will release a shortlist, not specific to the division. Interviews start at 5:30 in the morning. They do have a priority list for every division but they give first round of interview to everyone. First few rounds are all about puzzles, probability and there can be general maths like JEE level questions. Once you clear those two rounds, you will go into division specific rounds. There were two rounds for the securities division and two rounds for risk division. They will not ask anything outside of your resume. My current manager was the one who interviewed me for derivatives team in securities. I had two rounds based on my resume mostly on finance & maths. Since, I had CFA level I qualification, they asked me questions based on that too. You have to be thorough regarding the concepts if you are writing any finance related stuff in your resume. Having a finance background definitely helps. One round was all about my projects since I earlier worked on financial modeling and option pricing. For Risk they asked me around the Machine Learning. I spoke about my experience with ML during my internship. Then the offers were released at 1:30 in the afternoon. I got selected in the securities division.

You need to be very good at what you have written in your resume. If you have written something, there is high chance that they are going to grill you on that.

How did you decide that you wanted to go into non-core?

Ans. I never really wanted chem, I got chem so research was out of question. I did an intern in my second year in core chem company in Engineers India Limited and I didn’t enjoy it. So I started learning more about finance, analytics, coding etc. I also tried my third year intern in OYO, a startup but I didn’t like the culture. So I decided to convert to dual degree and prepare  more for a career in non-core.

How would you advice your juniors to take the opportunities offered to them by insti?

One thing I would advice is to not take too many PORs. Take one or two which you like but limit yourself to them. Contrary to popular beliefs, GS doesn’t see your POR’s. They gave 14 offers and none of us had extraordinary PORs. Develop your skills, try coding, analytics and do as many maths courses as possible if you are looking for companies like GS and JP Morgan. Put fight on your courses and projects. Participate in competitions like GS Quantify, Analyze This, Axis Moves etc. Last but not the least, enjoy your insti life.

Author: Sriram(BT-CH ’21)

This article is part of the series – The Placement Guru. To get regular updates on all our articles, follow us on Facebook at /chennai36 and Instagram at chennai36_iit.madras