Wild Geese: Rob McGoey, partner, PwC Banking & Capital Markets, New York
Bank on hard work to go a long way in the US
Rob McGoey: “Self- promotion is expected [in the US] so be able to communicate what you do well”
“I did the J1 visa thing in 1996 and,while most of my friends went to Cape Cod, I decided on Long Beach, New York. When I visited the city, I remember saying that I would live there someday. I love its energy and resilience and candour,” says Rob McGoey who has been based in the US since 2002.
McGoey joined PwC’s New York banking AND capital markets practice in 2002 as a senior associate. Before the end of his first year, he was promoted.
“I became lead manager for an IPO client with a presence in most states,” he says. “It was a tough time and a really steep learning curve. Hair loss may be hereditary but this certainly accelerated it. However, I gained a huge amount of experience in a two-year period and was promoted again.”
McGoey says that when the financial crisis really began to bite in 2007, the level of understanding and expertise required to negotiate the new landscape was immense. For him, it was a challenge but also an opportunity as two of his clients, Bank of America and Barclays, announced their mergers with Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers respectively.
Given the size of the projects, it was only realistic to work on one and McGoey chose the Barclays’ acquisition of Lehman.
“I certainly worked hard and took advantage of opportunities as they arose,” McGoey says.
“But I was also fortunate to have some really great mentors along the way who took a genuine interest in me and wanted me to succeed. I was admitted to partnership in July 2010. Since then I have continued to work with bulge bracket investment banks and US broker-dealers as they de-risk and navigate the ever changing regulatory environment.
“I also served on an advisory committee to our US leadership team and I currently work on the JP Morgan account.”
American Ireland Fund
In 2005, McGoey became involved with the American Ireland Fund (AIF), co-chairing its St Patrick’s Day celebrations in 2009. He currently serves as chairman of its steering committee for its New York Young Leaders group.
“Hard work is part of the national self-image,” he says. “Americans on average still work longer hours, with less time off for vacations, sick days or family leave than workers in other advanced nations. Live to work or work to live – we can have that debate – but the fact is, in a city like New York, which is a truly global marketplace for talent, people work long hours.
“Complexity, pace and expectations continue to increase all the time and it requires a lot of effort to continue to be successful. The US has a much more optimistic view of what’s possible. It can be tiring and relentless but it is infectious.”
McGoey says there are plenty of job opportunities in New York and, while employers look for people who will be a “good fit”, they are far more interested in skills than background or education.
“You have to be willing to promote yourself; not shamelessly or arrogantly, but Irish people tend to be brutally honest when it comes to ourselves and downplay our strengths and achievements,” he says. “The job market is extremely competitive here and other cultures are much better at self-promotion. Self-promotion is expected so be able to communicate what you do well and what you have achieved – even with a little bit of a swagger. It is important when it comes to differentiating yourself.
“There are so many developing economies in need of talent and there is lots of information at our finger tips to identify where those needs are,” he adds. “I think it’s important to ask yourself the following questions rather than just default to the usual emigration spots. What do you want to do? What would you like to use your skills for? Where are the opportunities to develop those skills? And where are they likely to be relevant five years and beyond from now?
“Besides the safe cross code and not swimming for an hour after eating, there are some things that are ingrained in us as part of Irish culture,” McGoey concludes. “We are personable, practical and hard-working; which means we tend to get along well with others, communicate well and are critical thinkers.
“People are generally predisposed to this thinking when you introduce yourself as Irish. So use this huge advantage to put yourself out there and grow your network. You are only so many iterations from matching your skills and desires to opportunities and it makes sense that the bigger your network, the closer you are to connecting them.”