I think my whole life people had said to me, 'Oh, you'd be great in sales.' And so I think when I took the wellness job, part of me was, I don't know, just rebelling.
Below is an abridged audio transcript of Episode 63 from Season 4 of Rock The Boat: Making Waves, edited for clarity.
In this episode of the podcast, Lucia talks to Phillip Han. He is a managing director at the multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs. At Goldman, Phillip is the global head of quantitative services sales, and America's had a futures and OTC clearing sales. Phillip is not only challenging the status quo by breaking the bamboo ceiling at a Fortune 50 company. He's also paving the way for other Asians and Asian Americans at Goldman to excel in their careers.
I. Meet Phillip
Lucia: Phillip, I'm so excited to have you on Rock the Boat. You've been, an incredible part of the Asian American community at Goldman. First of all, we always ask our guests to introduce themselves cause I think they do it better than anybody else.
Phillip: Sure, thank you for having me.
I'm really actually excited to be here. I've had the chance to listen to a few of the podcasts and I've enjoyed it. So, thanks again. My name is Phillip Han.
I run the quantitative services sales team at Goldman Sachs globally, as well as the futures and OTC clearing sales teams in the Americas. I've been at Goldman for 12 years, all here in New York.
Lucia: So where are you from? Where'd you grow up and, you know, like w what were you like as, as little Phillip?
Phillip: So I was born in Taipei, Taiwan. I am biracial, my father's Taiwanese, my mother's Caucasian and American, and grew up on Long Island. I was there until I was nine.
Actually, when my parents got divorced and I moved to Long Island, I moved to Port Washington and so moved from what was, and just culturally and academically, a very different experience to what I experienced on Long Island.
And I was shocked by how much. Free time and how much, just freedom I had, you know, from the third to fourth grade transition, when I got here, I was introduced to rollerblades. I was introduced to all types of new and exciting American activities. And then I was here and there until college, which was at Emory.
Lucia: I think what's really fascinating is that, you really grew up bicultural, right? Like you grew up with both cultures, you've lived in both places for extended periods of time. And I'm curious, being both half and living in both cultures extensively. Do you ever feel like you had to reconcile any parts of yourself ?
Phillip: Yes. And it's like still true to this day and it will be true probably for the rest of my life. And so, I'll just give an example. I have friends who live, where we live in Tribeca. We'd have neighbors who are good friends with who our kids went to school with, who are Taiwanese.
They're not biracial, but they were born here and raised here. And the contrasts are amazing. I mean, because they look at me and we have a great relationship. There we go on vacation or they're good friends and they see, they don't speak Mandarin that well. Cause they were here. But their parents of course speak full.
So when I talked to their parents are like, Oh, man, feels like bringing the full Taiwanese, even like dropping a little bit of like, like Taiwanese in the mix with the Mandarin.
II. Phillip's career path
Phillip: So what happened was I was in San Francisco. I did that job and the opportunity they wanted me to take was in Arizona. So I moved after about a year at San Francisco to a job with Wells in Arizona. And then when I was doing that job, I think the really positive thing is that I got onto my feet. And even though I didn't stay the view and perception of me and my contribution and the role I was playing really change.
And I think even if I had stayed, at least I knew, all right, I'm producing in a way that they're kind of meeting their expectations or better. And I had a good path here, but I think over that period, as I improved and got that part sorted out, which was important to me, it became obvious that that wasn't the place I wanted to be.
Not just geographically, but also the content of the job, what the future of that job would be. If I did exceptionally well, what would that lead to those that didn't interest me as I learned more about what that was going to be. And so, I began to explore other opportunities both back in California and in New York.
And at that time Wells had really no presence in investments in financial markets, it was a commercial and retail and wholesale bank.
And so I thought, okay, I've done some of this commercial retail banking side, would like to see what the experience would be at an investment bank. And really the, the first thing that came up was a role in, the technology side of the sales and trading businesses. And that's what brought me back to New York.
III. Bridging gaps
Lucia: So I have a question about that because I think a lot of Asian Americans find it difficult to find common ground with, you know, folks that have, either different cultures. There's always this concept of like the old boys club.
Phillip: So I would say, what's universally true when I got into the business, and even today is that the ambitious and young sales person who wants to bring in a lot of business fights against feeling junior to the very senior decision maker.
And so if that person is whatever 40 plus or, and in the example of your career or in my own, at the beginning and you're apprenticing under a senior sales person, and you get to learn the ropes and you help with tasks, and that's the best way to interact with a client.
And you're helping to resolve an issue and you build trust, but eventually you have to originate and acquire our own business. And where are the commonalities, if you're 24, 23 and you're 50 going to a game together, having dinner together, playing tennis together, let's go to a concert together.
Let's not make it just about sports and music. The thing too, what's perceived as the age gap or living a different life is a shared activity.
And so I think, not so much about sports, but anything that you can do together, riding a bike through the city, whatever it is that, you know, something that you can enjoy, whether you're that age, whether you're 20 years younger or not.