Great leaders inspire others to lead
Goldman Sachs global human resources head Edith Cooper '86 discovers and grows business innovators
Edith Cooper is responsible for the recruitment,
development and well-being of Goldman Sachs'
35,000 people. "Core to Goldman Sachs is
creating an environment where our people can
reach their potential and maximize their impact,"
she explains. In addition to finding candidates
who are smart and have the requisite skills, "we
seek collaboration, entrepreneurialism, creativity
and diversity — qualities that are fundamental to
Kellogg's mission, as well."
In 1983, Cooper was a Harvard liberal arts
undergraduate when she joined a training
program at a Chicago-based bank that included
financial support for a graduate degree in
business. She was drawn to Kellogg for its
emphasis on marketing. "Kellogg opened my
eyes to new career paths," she explains.
Unlike many of her classmates, Cooper had no
previous business experience, but Kellogg's
collegial environment and team-driven approach
gave her the confidence that she could not only
contribute, but also make a real impact. She was
pushed beyond her comfort zone and found
herself grappling with options and derivatives. "I
enjoyed being challenged in this way, and with
the support of the faculty and my classmates, I
found that I could conquer the material."
Upon graduation, Cooper moved back to New
York where she worked at Morgan Stanley and
Bankers Trust. In 1996, she joined Goldman
Sachs and ultimately rose to the most senior
ranks, becoming a member of the firm's
Management Committee, an Executive Vice
President and the global head of Human Capital
Over the years, she admits, her connection with
Kellogg faded. That connection was reignited
with the school's new administration. Cooper
joined the Northwestern University Board of
Trustees in 2015 and has served on the Global
"Dean Blount's leadership has been impressive,"
she says with admiration. "Sally is exceptional
in her ability to create a vision that positions
Kellogg extraordinarily well for the future and
also prepares students for this new reality.
She knows what it takes to evolve a culture,
finding common ground and inspiring buy-in
from an array of different stakeholders." She
continues, "I was an evening alumna, but Sally
recognized me as a resource and reached out
to me. Collaborating with her not only has reinvigorated
my link with this great institution,
it has refreshed my insight into what excellent
leadership looks like."
Cooper knows the secret to success is the
same, whether at Kellogg or in global business
leadership: daring ideas, new questions, engaging
team members and a commitment to excellence.