5 Things to Know About Edith Cooper, Our 2019 Graduation Keynote Speaker

Edith Cooper, former head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs, and Independent Board Director at both Etsy and Slack, will deliver the keynote speech at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies Graduation Ceremony on Saturday, May 18, 2019.

Here are five facts to know about Ms. Cooper:

  1. One of her first professional loves was fashion. She once dreamed of opening a boutique on Madison Avenue. Armed with a strong liberal arts degree, Ms. Cooper first step was to go to business school to gain “skills”, accepting a job as a First Scholar at First Chicago and attended business school at night. She retired from finance 3 years later.

  2. Motherhood propelled her Wall Street career. When Ms. Cooper joined Goldman Sachs she was a mother of three. She quickly rose through the ranks, eventually responsible for the recruitment, development, promotion, and well-being of 35,000 people from around the world. She credits her family life for making her more focused in life and at work, enhancing her ability to identify ideas and opportunities with impact.

  3. Her transformative work has not gone unnoticed. Ms. Cooper was named to Black Enterprise’s 2017 “300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America” list, and was recognized by Crain’s New York Business as one of the “Most Powerful Women”, among many other awards and honors.

  4. She reformed Goldman Sachs’ hiring process and transformed the firm’s work on achieving diversity at every level of the firm. One of Ms. Cooper’s main areas of focus during her time at the firm was creating and supporting a culture “in which each individual's full talents, unique backgrounds, and distinctive perspectives can contribute to the personal and professional growth and to the continued progress of our clients, our shareholders and our communities.”

  5. She now serves on the Boards of Slack and Etsy, organizations that are disrupting their industries. Having retired from Goldman Sachs after two decades of service, Ms. Cooper has shifted her pursuits to these “new adventures.” Her recent Board appointments reflect her passion for helping to “evolve the way people work, share ideas, thrive and prosper.”

Learn more about Columbia’s School of Professional Studies.