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How I Got Here: Faryar Shirzad ‘86

Nov 18, 2013
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What I do: Global co-head of government affairs at Goldman Sachs. “I manage the firm’s public policy and government relations worldwide — the ways we interact with governments, particularly on regulatory issues that affect the firm.”

Education: Majored in finance at Smith; went on to get a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard followed by a law degree from the University of Virginia. Worked in international trade litigation in Washington, D.C.

Big break: Hired as international trade counsel for Senate Finance Committee in 1997. “I advised the Finance Committee chair (William Roth, R-Del.) and the members of the committee on international trade policy.  I prepared trade legislation, and helped the chairman get it through the Senate so that it got to the President’s desk for his signature at the end of the day.”

2003: Asked to join the White House staff as special assistant to President Bush for International Economic Affairs; later became deputy assistant to the president and the deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs.

Nickname: As the person who staffed the president at economic summits, was known as the "Sherpa." “I was responsible for preparations, and often the only person allowed in the room with the president when the leaders were meeting.”

Proudest accomplishments: “We passed legislation that normalized trade relations with China, created a new trade benefit program for sub-Saharan Africa, and renewed and expanded the Caribbean Basin trade program. This gave American companies and workers more access to foreign markets under transparent trade agreements.”

2006: After G-8 summit, recruited by Goldman Sachs to help bankers deal with political risk.

Big challenge: “Banks and international financial institutions are going through a big wave of regulatory reform that is being implemented all across the world. It’s the most fascinating and consequential public policy exercise we’ve seen in decades. Major economies are agreeing to common framework for regulatory reform and doing it at the same time, but all somewhat differently. The potential impacts on the markets and the global economy are enormous.”

Big tip: “There are a lot of cool jobs out there, but you don’t know what they are when you’re 22. Over the course of your career they will reveal themselves to you. Put the building blocks in place so when you see the dream job, you’ll recognize it and will be prepared to step into it.”

Something I’m excited about: “Endurance mountain bike racing with my son!”

Faryar Shirzad lives in Arlington, Va. Get in touch through SmithConnector.

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The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.