Marilyn Duffy Grande, Chief Operating Officer, Goldman Sachs Foundation

Marilyn Duffy Grande, Chief Operating Officer, Goldman Sachs Foundation

Launched in 2001 by the Goldman Sachs Foundation and the Institute of International Education, the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Program works to identify second-year college students around the globe who demonstrate promise as future leaders. In pursuing that objective, the foundation and IIE consider a range of criteria, including academic excellence, demonstrated involvement and success in extracurricular activities, and a compelling vision of personal leadership. Each Global Leader receives $3,000 toward his or her educational costs, and a certain number of them — 75 out of 150 students in 2007 — are brought to New York City for the annual Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Institute, where they receive leadership training and the opportunity to develop a greater self-awareness of their own leadership capabilities and skills. Participants in the program subsequently are invited to join the Global Leader alumni network, which works with them to realize their leadership potential as they pursue their goals in college and beyond. In addition, all Goldman Sachs Global Leaders are eligible to submit proposals for seed funding from the Social Entrepreneurship Fund, which enables the young leaders to put their skills to work through nonprofit social ventures.

Recently, Philanthropy News Digest spoke with Marilyn Duffy Grande, chief operating officer and corporate secretary of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, about the Global Leaders Program and the potential of young people to change the world.

Philanthropy News Digest: Goldman Sachs is a global business whose investment banking activities affect, directly or otherwise, tens of millions of people around the world. Given the many challenges the foundation could address, why focus on leadership?

Marilyn Duffy Grande: Leadership for the Goldman Sachs Foundation is a natural bridge to the activities and core business principles of Goldman Sachs. We also have a long history of public service, with a number of our people serving in senior roles in government and the nonprofit sector following their retirement from the firm. The Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Program demonstrates each student's commitment to excellence, which is something the firm regards very highly, as well as teamwork, collaboration, and a global mind-set.

PND: Has Goldman's definition of leadership changed over the last decade or so, and if it has, what's behind that change?

MDG: It has, and one of the biggest factors in that change has been globalization. With globalization comes an increased expectation that leaders will be more open-minded, collaborative, and understanding of cultural differences in their working style. Those are all things we try to recognize and honor through the program.

PND: Do the hallmarks of effective leadership in the twenty-first century differ from sector to sector?

MDG: Qualities of leadership are transferable across sectors. One of the important aspects of leadership today is the ability to bring different sectors together to collaborate on a range of issues. Many of the challenges we face — global poverty, glaring inequities in access to and quality of education, climate change — not only demand engagement by public/private partnerships, they require an appreciation of our interconnectedness and a willingness to think outside of the box.

PND: Have you developed metrics to evaluate whether the program is achieving the desired outcomes?

MDG: One of the interesting aspects of success, as we've defined it, is that it builds over time as these students leave college and achieve the goals they set for themselves. We're targeting future leaders at a formative stage in their development, which is exciting. Currently there are seven and hundred and fifty Global Leaders around the world, and we stay connected with them through the program's alumni Web site and through alumni leadership training and networking events held in different regions. We also work with an independent evaluator who collects data to analyze the program's impact. What we've been able to track so far is that this program has a strong and distinct impact on the academic and future career development of young leaders. It enables participants to view the world with a more diverse perspective. Most of the participants report that as a result of the program, they have become more deeply involved in global issues and public service.

We also collect data on additional awards and recognition that these young people receive and the results are impressive. Three-fourths of Goldman Sachs Global Leaders have gone on to receive honors such as Fulbright, Rhodes, or Marshall scholarships. We also look at graduate-school acceptance rates and professional accomplishments.

The other piece we look at as a success indicator is the Social Entrepreneurship Fund, which makes it possible for participants in the program to apply for seed funding to start their own social ventures. It's an exciting opportunity for students to nurture and implement their visions and ideas in parts of the world that need them the most. Among the projects that have come out of the fund is a school in India, an anti-malaria program in Nigeria, and a scholarship program for children orphaned by AIDS in Thailand.

PND: What would you say to a young person who looks at the magnitude of the challenges we face and decides that he or she can't make a difference?

MDG: It really does start with one person; it starts with a single person's vision, a vision that has the power to inspire others to engage and take action. What we're really trying to do through the Global Leaders Program is identify young people with a compelling vision and a commitment to creating positive change through their leadership.

Mitch Nauffts