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EU Alumni: Jyoti Balakrishnan
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EU Alumni: Jyoti Balakrishnan

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EU Alumni: Jyoti Balakrishnan
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jyotiVP for Learning and Development at Goldman Sachs
MBA, 1997

Is from: India
Lives in: India

Why did you choose a career in learning and development? What does it entail?
Purely by chance! My career history is fairly unconventional and took many twists and turns before a semi-permanent change in 2005. I had already been in the hospitality, IT and public relations industries before I stumbled into training and development with a small boutique consulting firm in India. Starting from scratch as a corporate trainer, I learned and absorbed everything I saw. The position proved to come rather naturally to me and I found immense satisfaction in helping others find answers and facilitate dialogue on aspects that matter to any professional at any level across diverse groups. In 2008, after 1000 hours of training, I made the decision to move into talent development at Goldman Sachs, which proved to be the best decision I have made so far!  My role involves handling the needs of learning and development strategy at every key point in the employee life cycle. It involves being a partner with the leadership of the firm to work through any kind of change; be it people or environment.  The intensity of working with the brightest in the industry is really what keeps me going and helps me stay challenged every single day.

How has your career evolved since studying at EU?
I shifted gears several times through the course of my career – in the last 15 years (since EU) I dabbled and went with the flow. In retrospect, a lot of the skills I picked up at EU helped me navigate through different environments across cultures and industries. I now realize how transferable our skills are; and what really matters is the substance that a well-rounded personality brings to any situation.

What’s it like working for Goldman Sachs?
INTENSE. Interestingly, Goldman Sachs is very driven by an apprenticeship culture and we remain very people-centric. The overall attention to people-related issues is immense and we make tremendous effort in sharing experiences with those around us on both the aspects of working effectively, as well as what we want to achieve as a firm. At the core of the firm, there is still a partnership and the collegiate environment is still prevalent.

What’s the most interesting aspect of your job?
For me, the blending of academics in corporate set up. By which, I mean there is immense space to read, research and study human behavior and organizational development and use it in one’s daily conversations that are both intellectually and commercially beneficial. It’s a high-paced environment and yet it brings about elements of behavioral change with the “business” buy-in.

What were some of the values you learned at EU and how have you applied them to your everyday life and career?
EU helped me come out a refined thinker and gain insight into how to best present my ideas. The ability to work in teams, make presentations, articulate a key message – all that helped tremendously – especially as I had not worked before doing my Masters degree. It really made me ready to get from campus to corporate.

What does it take to work in learning and development? What type of person does it require?
Curiosity, creativity, interest in human behavior, psychology (an interest helps), ability and passion to absorb information, listen to the needs that are stated and understated. As for the type of person – I would say someone who likes to observe people (likes to sit in cafes, train stations and people watch), and wants to help facilitate change, one person at a time. The patience to mentor and coach individuals is also very vital and should be something you enjoy doing.

What advice would you give to any students who are wishing to go into the same field?
This is a field where there is a need to be a student for much longer. It’s about being away from the line management and taking a different view on what ‘achieving success’ really means. It takes more time to become a true blue learning and development professional. This is a space where experience – and specifically life experience – is valued. When you first start, you need to spend more time understanding the theory and foundations of learning and development in a corporate structure.

What was the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
To suspend judgment when listening to someone’s idea or situation. I practice that every day!