Edith Cooper

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 Management.

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 Advisory Board.

"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.

2015-16 Donors

  • The MBA that I received at Kellogg was life-changing and I want to help fund projects and programs to help the next generation of Kellogg students.
    – Jenny Lee '01

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  • My success is in large part due to the launch pad of Kellogg. I feel a responsibility to create the same opportunity for others.
    – Bruce Spohler '86

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  • Kellogg is achieving a bold and strategic vision. Students, faculty and leadership are accomplishing extraordinary things, and I'm excited to be a part of that.
    – Edith Cooper '86

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  • For us, it's more about paying forward than giving back. We feel proud to invest in Kellogg's future; enabling it to claim its place among the world's top business schools.
    – Gary '89 and Catherine Briggs '94

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  • We give to support Kellogg Scholarships. I believe that diversity is the way to attract students of the highest caliber and character. Supporting Kellogg's financial aid initiatives make this happen.
    – Lori Samuels '86

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  • We have gained a lot of value through our experiences at the Center for Family Enterprise, and know other families have as well. We think it's important to continue that work.
    – Drew Everett '08/'16

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