Goldman Sachs executive talks about global resilience, small business sentiment, and inflation
Global Head of Corporate Engagement and President of Goldman Sachs Asahi Pompey joins Brian Sozzi of Yahoo Finance Live at the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss deglobalization, global resilience, small business growth and future prospects in person amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Brian Chung: Empowering women’s leadership in finance remains a big topic, even as the 2022 World Economic Forum concludes in Switzerland. Brian Suzy of Yahoo Finance met with Asahi Pompei, Global Head of Corporate Engagement at Goldman Sachs and President of Goldman Sachs. Listen.
Asahi Bombe: Certainly, the topics related to deglobalization and regionalization were one of the main things that were in the discussions I participated in. Should I say, anywhere in the world, in an hour, I have a conversation with a Malaysian finance minister, a South African philanthropist, a UN official, and a Dutch bank CEO? This is a kind of secret sauce for Davos. And by having these discussions, it was really amazing to hear the kind of topics emerging from all over the world.
Brian Suzy: You can’t even have these chats on Zoom.
Asahi Bombe: not at all. We are miniaturizing.
Brian Suzy: As we zoom out, yes, sure. So what do they tell you? What do these great leaders tell you about the world?
Asahi Bombe: They’re telling us there’s a certain unease in the world, where things are going from all the macroeconomic challenges we face. The small business community in particular around the world is certainly very concerned. Certainly, headwinds they see from an inflationary perspective, workforce challenges, supply chain issues.
Sure, we’ve had a number of people kind of tell us, look, I got a call–three calls during the day. The first call was to say prices are up 5%. The second call was to say prices are up 10%. And the third call was to say, it’s up 10%. And by the way, it won’t be available for the next 18 months. And so, how do we approach and how do we advise and how do we manage, whether it’s from a policy perspective, from a business community perspective, these business issues, I think it’s one of the key things that we’re committed to. Re-vision.
Brian Suzy: Well, how do you manage things like that? What advice do you give them?
Asahi Bombe: Kind of three factors. One that is definitely a continued access to the capital story, isn’t it? Small businesses around the world need capital to be able to grow their businesses. And frankly, resilience has been another topic we hear throughout our discussions with the people I talk to. And so, I think access to capital is one of the main things that we see.
The second thing is, is it possible to source locally, right? And so, more and more, we see companies looking in their own backyard to see if they were able to find products that they otherwise would have been looking elsewhere to find. And third, the workforce – are there different types of arrangements they can come up with to be more flexible to attract the talent they need to be able to run their business?
Brian Suzy: True story – I follow you closely on LinkedIn.
Asahi Bombe: Along the same lines. right back to you.
Brian Suzy: And i appreciate that. And I know you’re leading a lot of very important initiatives within Goldman Sachs. Let’s start with the 10,000 Small Projects initiative. What is the update on it?
Asahi Bombe: As you know, it’s called 10,000 small businesses. We are in 12,300 companies worldwide. In fact, in the United States, 10,000 Women is our platform that we have business, really, all over the world. I think the update there is that we’re really seeing — the voices of small businesses are being heard more and more.
We launched the 10,000 Small Business Voices Program, which is truly an advocacy platform where small businesses can come together and really say, Here are the top issues we face. Below are the policy changes we will need. We were serving them during the pandemic. And they are getting increasingly anxious. They say it feels like running a small business is really getting through an obstacle course, of all the things that need to be managed over the course of the pandemic, and now hopefully, we’re getting out of it.
Brian Suzy: And another initiative we’ve followed closely here at Yahoo Finance is the Million Black Women Initiative. What – what is the position of things on it?
Asahi Bombe: Yeah, so a million black women, as you well know, Brian, about a year ago we launched a $10 billion commitment, plus $100 million in philanthropic capital, to increase — to improve the lives of at least one million black women over the next decade. So we have invested up to a billion dollars so far. Mommy, which is kind of a healthcare company that really focuses on black women and maternal health, is the latest investment we’ve made.
On the philanthropic side, it’s really about a number of things about the pillars of healthcare, education, access to capital, and bridging the digital divide that we all know are more important than ever. Thus, really investing in those seven pillars, as well as philanthropic grants and commitments.
Brian Suzy: I almost sent you a message on LinkedIn, and you deleted it. I don’t want to be that guy. But I want to ask you how did you get this job? How did you get here?
Asahi Bombe: As you know, I’m a recovering attorney. And so, I got started in the trenches of investment banking and really managed to pivot during the period that David Solomon became CEO and was asked to move into the executive office. I tell him I got the best job at Goldman Sachs. It is incredible to be able to meet and help entrepreneurs from all over the world in the job I do.
Brian Suzy: Any inspiring advice for people watching this and seeing you as a strong person within Goldman Sachs and in a leadership position? Any words of wisdom for them?
Asahi Bombe: You know, I would say, really focus on being a servant leader, to the point where you can find ways to add value and really be of service to your community. I think this is one of the best ways to be able to not only achieve personal fulfillment, but really make an impact in the world.
Brian Suzy: How hard it is to be a leader in this environment, where we are all still on Zoom calls, we are nearly three years into the pandemic.
Asahi Bombe: You know, I always like to see opportunities. Yes, there are challenges. But you can also see if it’s to promote racial equality, promote sustainability, or help small businesses, there are plenty of opportunities in the uncertainty. And being able to find it and really find the pockets where you can make an impact, that’s the magic.