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The Olympian who left Goldman Sachs for Al Gore’s investment firm

An investment manager at Goldman Sachs, who represented Turkey in the 2008 Olympics, has left the bank to work for the sustainable asset manager set up by presidential candidate turned climate change campaigner, Al Gore.

Sedef Koktenturk left Goldman Sachs, where she was an executive director in its investment management division, in July to take a director role at Generation Investment Management in London, a firm which takes an ethical approach to investment.

Say what you like about Goldman Sachs, and its vampire squid reputation, but it’s supportive of its employees who want to pursue elite sporting vocations. Koktenturk joined Goldman Sachs in 2003, but left in 2006 so that she could focus on training for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where she represented Turkey in windsurfing. She then rejoined the bank in 2010.

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Koktenturk trained six days a week in the build up for the games – a combination of strength and endurance conditioning – and even informed her husband that they would be splitting up for two years while she trained for the Olympics.

Goldman Sachs also employs Annie Panter, a member of the Great Britain hockey team who won bronze at London 2012, and allows her to work four days a week in order to fit in her training. Rob Williams, who won a silver medal in the men’s lightweight fours rowing at London 2012, works at the bank; and Peter Hudnut, who competed in the U.S. men’s water polo team at last year’s Olympics, joined the bank’s wealth management division in Los Angeles last year.

Koktenturk’s journey to the Olympics is an inspiring example of tenacity and perseverance – she originally wanted to compete in Barcelona 1992, but a broken wrist forced her to give up the sport. From then she focused on building her career – attending Columbia University Business School in 2002 after five years at PwC and then joining Goldman’s associate programme. It was only a change in the equipment in 2006 that allowed her to rekindle her passion for windsurfing.

Generation Investment Management remains a relative boutique operation, employing just 55 people across 16 different countries, 25 of which work in investment functions. Its focus is global sustainability and renewable energy issues. It was set up by Al Gore in 2004, along with David Blood, who was previously head of Goldman Sachs' asset management division.

AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • Ol
    18 August 2013

    You about Gillian Sanders - former city lawyer. Quit her job at the end of 2010 to try qualify for London 2012 in the triathlon, in essentially 18 months, went on a gruelling quest to qualify and she did it, ended up top 20 on the day, very impressive

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