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Rachel Reeves, the UK's new chancellor, turned down Goldman Sachs aged 21

Rishi Sunak, Britain's defeated outgoing prime minister, was once an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Rachel Reeves, Britain's incoming Chancellor of the Exchequer, could have been an analyst at Goldman Sachs too, but she decided against it.

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Reeves, who is the UK's first female chancellor, said she interviewed with Goldman after graduating from Oxford University in 2000. She turned the firm down, but observed 13 years ago that she "could have been a lot richer" if only she'd taken Goldman up on its job offer. 

After rejecting Goldman, Reeves went on to work as an economist first for the Bank of England and then for HBOS, the Scottish bank which failed during the financial crisis. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards described HBOS' demise as the result of, "catastrophic failures of management, governance and regulatory oversight." However, Reeves worked on the retail mortgages team at HBOS, rather than the commercial banking arm, which brought about the collapse. 

Although Reeves sidestepped the path trodden by Sunak, who went from Goldman Sachs to Stanford Business School to a London hedge fund, she's not that temperamentally dissimilar to an ex-banker with a hedge fund history. She told the Times last month that she feels a constant need to prove herself, is "really competitive" and a "steely decision maker." She also noted that she's spent most of her career working in "male environments."

If Reeves had accepted the job at Goldman, and then stayed there, she might well have been a Goldman partner alongside Peter Oppenheimer by now. As a champion junior chess player, she might also have helped Goldman make it through to the final rounds of the corporate chess championship. Instead, she's got the most powerful job in UK finance. Writing on Twitter, Reeves said becoming chancellor is the "honour of my life." She intends to help other women into senior jobs too. “I would love there to be a female governor of the Bank of England before too long," she informed the Times. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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