On the evening of November 3th, 2015, Mark Schwartz, the Vice-Chairman of Goldman Sachs and Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific, arrived at Yenching Academy to deliver a special guest lecture. In addition to sharing his personal experiences and life lessons, Mr. Schwartz also engaged in an in-depth discussion with the audience. The guest lecture was moderated by John Holden, the Associate Dean at Yenching Academy, and was attended by Professor Jiang Guohua, the Director of Operations at Yenching Academy, Ms. Song Bing, the Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities, as well as over seventy Yenching scholars and staff.
Schwartz divided his guest lecture into four different sections, covering his personal life; his ongoing relationship with his alma mater, Harvard University; his professional career; and his engagement in philanthropy. As he spoke about his family life, he explained how finding one's other half is absolutely crucial.
Similarly, Schwartz also maintains a close and ongoing relationship with his alma mater, Harvard University. Schwartz remarked on how he was one of the few people from his graduating class that was from a small town, and that his acceptance into Harvard changed his life. Even after he graduated, Schwartz continued to maintain a close relationship with Harvard and noted that he has gained more from his years after graduation than he did during his years in the Harvard classroom. He urged the audience to maintain close contact with their alma mater no matter where they are in the world.
As Schwartz transitioned into talking about his professional career, he started out with a story about how his 36-year career at Goldman Sachs started from an accidental encounter. After he graduated, he applied to several positions at Goldman Sachs but was unsuccessful. He was ready to give up and accept an offer from another company when he ran into an unexpected contact from Goldman Sachs in the humid New York subway one day. The friend offered Schwartz a position at his own department and persuaded Schwartz to join him. After some hesitance, Schwartz agreed, and thus began his career at Goldman Sachs.
In a similar sense, Schwartz's involvement in philanthropy also started with an unlikely encounter with a few HIV/AIDs researchers. By building hospitals, funding research and education, and personally leading volunteer efforts, Schwartz and his wife have contributed to the fight against HIV/AIDs for over 10 years. Schwartz has also personally visited Africa over 70 different times.
After sharing his own stories, Schwartz remarked that everyone in China has his or her own China dream, including Schwartz himself. Schwartz explained that he is optimistic about China's long-term future and that we live in a historic moment in China's development. He believes that China will play an increasingly important role on the global stage but it also needs to make necessary reforms to realize its true potential.
After his lecture, Schwartz opened up the floor for questions. The audience asked him a variety of questions, including how he handles risk and important challenges, how he manages personal and professional relationships, and how to adapt to cultural differences. Schwartz encouraged the Yenching Scholars to challenge themselves, to think critically, to reject mediocrity, and to pursue excellence.