Goldman Sachs GS -0.41% Group Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein Wednesday gave business students at Tsinghua University a piece of advice that would make most teachers cringe: “Skip the content in school. We’ll teach it to you at Goldman Sachs.”
Mr. Blankfein, an advisory member of Tsinghua’s School of Economics and Management, told the audience that it was more important to first become an interesting person. “You have to know the content of your field, but you also have to be a complete person, the kind of person that other people want to deal with,” he said.
His conversation with Tsinghua School of Economics and Management dean Qian Yingyi came on the heels of the gaokao, China’s notoriously difficult college-entrance exam, and SAT testing weekends, when millions of high school students sat for exams in hopes of getting good scores to boost their university applications. There have beencheating concerns surrounding some college exams, particularly at schools abroad, as competitiveness among foreign applicants heightens.
After Mr. Qian told Mr. Blankfein that more than 9 million high school students recently sat for the gaokao, Mr. Blankfein said, “Not only do they pass the test, but they survive the most excruciating pressured situation in the world today.”
He then added, “I know they are filling the universities, I hope they don’t fill the mental institutions, because the pressure must be quite intense.”
Nancy Qin, a third-year student at the School of Economics and Management, said Mr. Blankfein’s comments reinforced her decision to intern at a consulting firm this summer, rather than an investment bank. “You have to know how to talk with others in the real world,” Ms. Qin said.
Toward the end of the talk, Mr. Blankfein told the audience he wished he was 40 years younger–and Chinese. “You are lucky to be in China at this time of growth. Fifty years ago, you wouldn’t be able to be an entrepreneur,” he said, adding that in 50 years, there won’t be the first massive generation to have a chance to start businesses.
Minutes later, he painted a more realistic picture for the students. “I should say you’re in the right place at the right time, but you also didn’t invent life.”