Gregory Thompson, Asia Co-Head Of Global Market Operations at Goldman Sachs, shares with WiFA his motivation to be a male ally, his experience being a mentor, advice he would provide male colleagues to become an ally, and much more.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

While my family is from the US, I was born in Hong Kong during one of my dad’s assignments with the Navy.  I spent my early years living internationally in places like Australia, Pakistan, Spain and Ecuador.  I then returned to the US for my high school and undergraduate studies. After graduating from Embry Riddle University, I worked for Boeing on a military airplane program for 3 years until I went to Carnegie Mellon University to pursue an MBA. Then I moved to New York and joined Goldman Sachs in the Technology division.  I met my wife while she was a consultant working at Goldman Sachs and we now have 2 children.  I have spent 19 years at the firm and have had various leadership roles in Operations. In 2017, I became Managing Director and soon after, we moved to Hong Kong where I co-head Global Markets Operations for the region.

While in Hong Kong I have led the establishment of the firm’s Asia Innovation program, became the Male Allies corporate representative and member of leadership council, and more recently led the creation of the global Business Optimization & Scalability Services team.

Mentors play an important role in the development of many careers. Did you have a mentor? If so, what did you look for in that person?

I have been privileged to work with many mentors throughout my career and still seek counsel from them today. I have always sought out mentors who are different from me, can help me grow in areas I need to work on and have leveraged their experience during inflection points in my career. I usually seek out people who I respect as a person, as a leader and as a coach. I have been fortunate to have three strong female mentors in my life who taught me about financial services, building a professional network, being comfortable with yourself, and the value of giving back.

After my promotion, I looked for someone who could coach me and help me continue to develop as a leader. My most recent mentor is someone who taught me how to be a managing director and come across like I had been one for years. She taught me how to present myself to senior leaders, the value of relationships, how to further develop your brand and how to get to know your audience. If that wasn’t enough, she even supported me outside of work on a personal level with my family and children. I had never worked with someone that senior who would go so far out of her way to ensure someone’s success and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.

Working with amazing mentors has instilled in me the value of giving back.  This is why I serve as a mentor to a group of talented women in my organization and I stress with everyone that true relationships are not point in time, but rather something that is continuous and evolves if done successfully.

What advice or guidance would you provide men so they can become an ally? What can they do better to support their female colleagues professionally?

My advice to men would be to start out by giving people their time, being empathetic, and listening to them.  Allies take responsibility for developing women and go out of their way to open doors and give them the right exposure professionally.  A great ally is someone who leverages their influence and is willing to use their own credibility to push the agenda.  We can all be better at supporting our female colleagues if we get to know them, make the effort to understand their needs and how we can help. Instead of thinking around the confines of the status quo, think about how you push the envelope to empower, grow, give flexibility and ensure their success.