About the time Toyota introduced its hybrid Prius in the United States, and a good four years before "An Inconvenient Truth" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Goldman Sachs investment banker Clare Scherrer got an inkling that demand for clean water-and the efficient use of resources generally-would soon drive businesses globally. The insight came from watching the dynamics in an auction of a single water technology company. "From that one transaction I saw an opportunity to develop a practice where one hadn't existed before," Scherrer says.
This deal led Scherrer to create first a domestic, then an international plan to build Goldman a practice in water technology and energy efficiency mergers and acquisitions and IPOs. Goldman now owns that sector, holding number one market share and collecting roughly 80 percent of M&A and IPOs in the sector in the last six years, not to mention generating $80 million in revenue for the firm. Revenue in the industrials group is down 15 percent year-over-year in the 12 months ending May 31, but Scherrer says her niche has been least affected by the macroeconomic environment, and she believes it will continue to prosper. "There's no solution on the horizon," she says. "There's nothing that's going to come along and make water less scarce."
As a result of her prescient business building, Scherrer is now a 39-year-old partner and managing director, one of four responsible for Goldman's Industrials group in the investment banking division. She has also been tagged with overseeing the career development of 52 junior bankers in the industrials group.
The mentoring role is the latest in a long-line of diversity and women's leadership roles Scherrer has held at the firm, and fresh off a two-year stint in which she helped serve as co-head of Goldman's Firmwide Women's Network, which had stagnated a bit in favor of divisional efforts. Scherrer sees a clear advantage to bringing women from across the company together both to network, and to bring their communal-if not common-voice to the executive team. "We all do our jobs better now," she says. "I realize there's not a quarter that goes by that I don't call a woman from another division that I've met; I feel much more empowered and capable of helping other women build their businesses."
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