Q&A with Nicole Pullen Ross: "Each Aspect of Who I Am Provides a Unique Perspective"

In this Q&A, we catch up with Nicole Pullen Ross, region head of the New York Private Wealth Management (PWM) business and leader of the Goldman Sachs Black Network in the Americas, who discusses her career path, intersectionality, and what is on the Network’s horizon in 2021 and beyond. 

Tell us a little about your career path.
I am currently the partner leading our PWM (Private Wealth Management) business for the New York region. I also lead our Sports and Entertainment Solutions offering for Wealth Management.

I originally joined PWM at Goldman Sachs as a summer associate in New York while attending Columbia Business School. I then began advising families, individuals, foundations and endowments before being asked to lead our business in the Mid-Atlantic region, ultimately returning to New York. My entire 20-plus year career has been focused on providing deep, authentic advice to our amazing clients over a range of market conditions and complexities.

For those unfamiliar with the Black Network, how would you describe the role of this network and how has it helped our people?
I feel very privileged to have played several leadership roles across the Black Network during my career. For many years, I was the co-head for the New York/New Jersey chapter and more recently, I have been invited to serve as the Americas region head moving forward, which I am incredibly excited about. I think the networks are part of the unique DNA of the firm and serve to unite the community around common goals and ensure our diverse experiences, voices and skills contribute to the firm and the industry’s success.  

What is the responsibility of an inclusion network leader at Goldman Sachs?
As a Network leader, the responsibilities are quite broad-ranging; from shaping the strategy for both the Network and the firm’s approach to Black talent, to moderating and speaking on panels supporting our Network events and activities, including Black History Month and mentoring professionals across the community.    

What are some key objectives of the Black Network in 2021? Are there different goals for different regions? And what are some globally consistent themes in goal-setting this year?
Our objectives for 2021 will be focused around four strategic pillars: Recruiting, Professional & Personal Growth, Client Engagement, and Community Engagement. These are global across all the networks as we partner with Human Capital Management to ensure we are working to support the firm’s broader strategic inclusion goals and objective. Then as a region, we’ll stay connected across our main offices and with our EMEA and APAC counterparts to ensure our network plays a central role in fueling change and empowering our Black colleagues.

You’re also a member of Private Wealth Management (PWM) Women’s Council and co-head of the Consumer and Wealth Inclusion and Diversity Council. How do you think about these different initiatives in terms of your own personal experience and identity, and more broadly in terms of intersectionality? 
In return for bringing your authentic self to the office, you receive the reward of connecting more broadly and more deeply. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and partner at Goldman Sachs who happens to be a Black woman who grew up in the south learning to love sports with my father. Each aspect of who I am provides a unique perspective that enriches relationships and helps contribute to diverse and thoughtful advice. 

The PWM business is a great example of how relationships are very personal for all of our clients. What we have found with some of our clients, particularly women, is the same feeling of gathering around the table with friends and family over coffee or wine. We have broadened the room to include gathering around the board room and/or office. Sharing ideas, life lessons learned and tips to manage the many hats that women wear is such a rich experience. We are proud to be able to convene extraordinary women around the world.

What has your view been of the industry’s efforts towards racial equity, particularly over the past year? 
I am encouraged to see the industry taking action that will have a long-term structural impact in response to the outcries regarding racial inequity over the past year. Although there is much more work to do, I believe progress is real and will deliver results throughout the broader industry for many years to come; ultimately contributing to reducing the racial equity gap. 

What advice do you have for someone who would like to contribute to these efforts or be a better ally?
Achieving lasting results will require broad engagement and diverse perspectives. To contribute to the solution, I encourage leveraging resources to raise awareness, having the courage to have uncomfortable conversations and maintaining the endurance to remain involved. It will be tempting to move on to the next topic as it might be easy to leave it to others to do the work. We owe it to ourselves collectively and future generations to resist those distractions and be steadfast in our efforts and consistent in our level of engagement. 

Hear more from Nicole and some of her fellow partners in a recent conversation moderated by chairman and CEO David Solomon.