Agostina Pechi is currently the managing director and head of EM and commodities local sales and structured credit sales in Latin America for Goldman Sachs. Prior to joining Goldman, she had been vice president at Credit Suisse for two years. At Goldman, she brings to bear her over 14 years of experience in “Emerging Markets,” where she focuses on “Fixed Income.” Her professional specialties are in “Emerging Markets, Client Coverage/Origination, Derivatives, Commodities, ESG/Sustainable Infrastructure and Project Finance, Structured Finance, Distress and Illiquid Credit.”
As managing director at Goldman Sachs, Agostina Pechi holds the responsibility in “marketing cross-assets, solutions, derivatives, and structured finance in Latin America.” At the same time, she is also the co-head of the Securities Division Women’s Network, as well as a member of the Managing Director Steering Committee for the Firmwide Hispanic/Latino Network.
Prior to Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, Agostina Pechi had also worked as vice president for Deutsche Bank in London and New York for five years. Currently, she also sits on the Executive Board of ProjectArt, “a nonprofit organization that provides free art education to children in New York, Detroit, Miami, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Chicago, New Orleans, and San Francisco.” In 2020, she also became an ambassador for Latin America for the PVBLIC Foundation.
Agostina Pechi also earned her BA in Economics from the Torcuato Di Tella University in 2006.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Agostina Pechi: Thank you so much for having me. I am Agostina Pechi, you can call me Agos. I have been with Goldman Sachs for 7 years, and am a Managing Director working in their Global Markets Division. I grew up in Argentina, and received my Bachelor of Economics in Di Tella University. As a daughter of Italian-Hispanic immigrants there were a lot of hardships with family finances, while I was growing up. It is during these formative years that I realized the importance of finance and capital in Latin America. I also developed a desire to give back to my community. I dreamt of finding a job at a global bank that would allow me to work at one of the major financial centers.
Soon after completing my undergraduate studies, I got a job offer at Deutsche Bank in Argentina. During that time, it was unusual for recent graduates to join a major bank and obtain an international work visa. However, I was lucky to get one and was able to start my training program. This role was a unique opportunity for me as I was the only female Latino in the program that year. Upon completion, I moved to my permanent role and through a couple of international movements, I found myself in London and then finally in New York.
In New York, I gained years of experience in Emerging Market sales across different products. I also had the opportunity to work with Credit Suisse before coming to Goldman Sachs. I think that’s a little bit of my back story. It has been very exciting with a lot of ups and downs.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Agostina Pechi: Sure. From a young age we spoke three different languages at home — Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. When I first started my journey moving from Argentina to London and then to New York, it was not only a challenge in terms of relocation but also in terms of language. But I said Yes.
However, I underestimated the difficulties of navigating the cultural differences and the business environment in a male dominated industry. I often felt that I was lacking mentors, and that made it even harder for me. I really never considered giving up because I felt it was a unique opportunity, that would lead to more opportunities for me, as well as for more women to follow the same path.
Initially, I think the drive came from the support of my family. Over time, through constant networking efforts, I was able to find great sponsors and mentors, who gave me the guidance and support that I needed to grow. And with their help, I was able to find what I was good at and what I was passionate about. To find something where your skills and passions are aligned can provide great confidence, and help you overcome those tough times when you question yourself.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Agostina Pechi: This is a very tricky question. Well, when I was a vice president, I organized a trip to meet with a Latin American sovereign with senior management from the bank. It was a unique opportunity for me to show my leadership capabilities and be able to present our platform to the government officials. When we arrived, the government officials thought I was the senior most person on the delegation because the “Vice President” in some countries is considered a very senior role. However, in the financial industry it is middle management.
At the beginning I was really liking the attention and I loved being in the limelight. But it became a little concerning when the government officials wrote an article saying “The Delegation Led by Agostina Pechi, Vice president of Goldman Sachs.” Luckily the other Directors on my team saw the humor and we had a good laugh about it.
Key lesson learned: When you think of connecting companies and servicing clients globally, it is important to be aware of the cultural differences and be forthright, instead of delaying anything you want to say. That has been a very important lesson.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
- Well defined responsibilities- It’s certainly number one. Define and clearly communicate to employees your goals and what you are expecting from them and let them handle it their own way. For example, we set high level objectives on a quarterly basis, and on a weekly basis discuss more specific business objectives. Especially as responsibilities can shift or grow during turbulent times, it is critical to focus on defining these responsibilities and clearly communicating them.
2.Make sure you have the right person for the job — You need to really know your team’s weaknesses and strengths, and find the right person for the task. For example, each member of my team has a unique background and brings a unique perspective. If we are analyzing a transaction that has a certain feature or is in a certain jurisdiction, or would otherwise involve some particular sort of background, it is important to reflect on each individual, and the combined strengths of the team, to staff most efficiently.
3.Have an open-door policy — It’s essential to be open to your team member’s suggestions, concerns and feedback. This will ensure important information reaches us and we can make necessary improvements and tackle every problem. For example, I implement a weekly email follow up or in person catch up just to give some cadence to our interactions. So, I don’t wait until they come to me with an issue or progress. That way those checkpoints are well defined and I’m relaxed that I will be posted on the progress in a certain period of time.
4.Identify clear targets and objectives — even when responsibilities are well defined and the right person is chosen. It can be hard for the individual to envision what you think is an optimum outcome. For example, onboarding 10 new clients is good for me, but for the individual onboarding 3 is good enough. And when we get to the performance review, we realize that each of us were targeting different results. Another example is that, sometimes people tend to think of projects in phases. Providing the overall picture and discussing what is expected will allow for timely results and realignment of goals when needed.
- Check regularly with the team and trickle-down information: With ever changing market and economic conditions, we find that business priorities change as well. We need to implement a culture of communication and frequently touch base with the team to share the ‘big picture’ and provide feedback on their progress. In my opinion keeping the team informed builds the culture of transparency and encourages them to do the same within the team. This flow of information results in better outcomes. As an example, this type of communication and swiftly transference of information was critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we quickly prioritized or sidelined certain initiatives at the management level.
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the often quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
Agostina Pechi: Well, I think it’s partially true. As a manager the first thing you need to do is to hire the right individuals and train them. That bit is the manager’s responsibility. Over time you should be able to assess their strengths, weaknesses and make the right adjustments so that the team is able to achieve its goals. A common mistake manager makes is to assume everything will work out and keep moving forward without making any adjustments. This generally backfires and the manager may feel that they could have done it better themselves. Hence it is of utmost importance to get this first step right.
So, the way I reconcile that is by being completely confident on that first step. You can then start trusting your team and trusting that the adjustments you made are the right ones. This will free up your time for more strategic planning for the medium and long term, leaving the day to day work to your team members.
However, when you inherit a team and you can’t make the hiring decisions you would want, again focus on getting to know the team’s strengths and weaknesses to be able to leverage what you have and be aware of areas of development. Mastering that is really important to become a true leader and not just a manager.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this.