Goldman Sachs exec talks global resiliency, small business sentiment, and inflation

Global Head of Corporate Engagement and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation Asahi Pompey joins Yahoo Finance Live’s Brian Sozzi at the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss deglobalization, global resiliency, small business growth, and the outlook for an in-person world amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Video Transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: Empowering female leadership in finance continues to be a big topic, even as the 2022 World Economic Forum wraps up in Switzerland. Yahoo Finance’s own Brian Sozzi caught up with Asahi Pompey, Goldman Sachs global head of corporate engagement and Goldman Sachs Foundation president. Take a listen.

ASAHI POMPEY: Certainly, the themes around deglobalization, regionalization, has been one of the key things that have been in the discussions that I’ve been in. I have to say, where in the world can, in the course of an hour, I have a conversation with the Minister of Finance of Malaysia, a philanthropist from South Africa, a UN official, and a Dutch bank CEO? And so that’s sort of the secret sauce of Davos. And in having those discussions, it’s been really incredible to hear sort of the themes emerging from around the world.

BRIAN SOZZI: You can’t even have those chats on Zoom.

ASAHI POMPEY: No, not at all. And we’re Zoomed out.

BRIAN SOZZI: And we’re Zoomed out, yes, absolutely. So what are they telling you? What are these top leaders telling you about the world?

ASAHI POMPEY: They’re telling us that there’s a certain sense of unease in the world, where things are going from all the macroeconomic challenges we’re facing. Certainly, a small business community in particular around the world is very concerned. Certainly, the headwinds they’re seeing from an inflationary perspective, workforce challenges, supply chain issues.

Certainly, we’ve had a number of people sort of tell us, look, I got a call– three calls in the course of a day. The first call was to say, prices are going up 5%. The second call was to say, prices are going up 10%. And the third call was to say, it’s going up 10%. And by the way, it won’t be available for the next 18 months. And so, how do we deal and how do we advise and how do we manage, whether it’s from a policy perspective, it’s from a business community perspective, these issues that relates to businesses, I think is one of the key things that we’re seeing.

BRIAN SOZZI: Well, how do you manage through things like that? What advice are you giving them?

ASAHI POMPEY: Sort of three factors. One is certainly the access to capital story continues, right? Small businesses around the world need the capital to be able to grow their business. And frankly, resiliency has been another theme that we’re hearing throughout the course of our discussions with people I’m talking to. And so, access to capital, I think, is one of the key things that we’re seeing.

The second thing is, is it possible to source locally, right? And so, more and more, we’re seeing businesses look in their own backyard to see if they’re able to find the products that otherwise, they would have been looking elsewhere to find. And thirdly, workforce– are there different kinds of arrangements that they can come up with to be more flexible to attract the talent that they need to be able to manage their business?

BRIAN SOZZI: True story– I follow you very closely on LinkedIn.

ASAHI POMPEY: Likewise. Right back at you.

BRIAN SOZZI: I appreciate that. And I know you lead a lot of very important initiatives inside Goldman Sachs. Let’s start with the 10,000 Small Business Initiative. What is an update on that one?

ASAHI POMPEY: You know, it’s called 10,000 Small Businesses. We’re at 12,300 businesses around the world. Actually, in the United States, 10,000 women is our program that we have businesses, really, around the world. I think the update there is that we’re seeing a really– the voices of small businesses being heard more and more.

We launched our 10,000 Small Businesses Voices Program, which is really an advocacy platform where small businesses can get together and really say, here are the top issues we’re having. Here are the policy changes that we’re going to need. We’ve been serving them over the course of the pandemic. And they’re getting increasingly, increasingly concerned. They’re saying it feels like running a small business is really navigating an obstacle course, of all of the things to manage over the course of the pandemic, and now as we’re, hopefully, coming out of it.

BRIAN SOZZI: And another initiative we have followed closely here at Yahoo Finance, the 1 Million Black Women Initiative. What– where do things stand on that?

ASAHI POMPEY: Yeah, so 1 Million Black Women, as you know very well, Brian, we launched about a year ago, a $10 billion commitment, on top of that $100 million in philanthropic capital, to increase– to improve the lives of at least a million Black women over the next decade. So we’ve made about a billion dollars of investments so far. Mommy, which is sort of a healthcare company that’s really focused on Black women and maternal health, is our most recent investment that we’ve made.

On the philanthropic side, it’s really around a number of things around the pillars of healthcare, education, access to capital, closing the digital divide that we all know is more important than ever. And so, really making investments in those seven pillars, as well as our philanthropic grants and commitments.

BRIAN SOZZI: I almost sent you a LinkedIn message, and I deleted it. I didn’t want to be that guy. But I want to ask you, how did you get this job? And how did you get here?

ASAHI POMPEY: You know, I’m a recovering lawyer. And so, I started in the trenches of investment banking and really was able to pivot over the course of when David Solomon became CEO and was asked to be– to move into the executive office. I chide him that I’ve got the best job at Goldman Sachs. It’s incredible to be able to meet with and help entrepreneurs around the world in the job that I do.

BRIAN SOZZI: Any inspirational advice to folks watching this and see you as a powerful person inside of Goldman Sachs and in the leadership position? Any words of wisdom for them?

ASAHI POMPEY: You know, I would say, really focus on being a servant leader, to the extent that you can find ways to add value and to really be in service of your community. I think that’s one of the best ways to be able to not only find personal fulfillment, but really to make an impact in the world.

BRIAN SOZZI: How challenging has it been to be a leader in this environment, where we’re still all on Zoom calls, we’re almost three years into a pandemic.

ASAHI POMPEY: You know, I always like to see opportunities. Yes, there are challenges. But you can also find, whether it’s advancing racial equity, whether it’s advancing sustainability, whether it’s helping small businesses, there’s lots of opportunity in uncertainty. And being able to find those and really find the pockets where you can make an impact, that’s the magic.

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