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Department: Politics

Goodwin Politics

C. Kim Goodwin ’81

Global Head of Equities, Asset Management Division, Credit Suisse

Learning about social responsibility

Instead of choosing a college major that was based on my career interests, I selected a field of study that ultimately helped to shape my career.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, members of the University community focused intently on the question of whether considerations with respect to social responsibility should influence decisions about investing the University’s endowment. I was one of the student leaders focused on the question of divestiture in South Africa, and majoring in politics provided an excellent opportunity to explore these issues in depth. Princeton’s endowment portfolio was much less diversified by region and asset class than it is today, so the questions centered on U.S. companies that were doing significant business in or with South Africa. In order to determine their exposure I spent a great deal of time in Firestone Library’s industrial relations section reading corporate annual reports. Absent that research initiative I might not have chosen to become an investment professional.

Broadening my perspective

The politics department offered a wide range of courses with a global focus. I took a Soviet politics course taught by a renowned professor, and a Latin American politics course that was part of an excellent multidisciplinary studies program. I was fortunate enough to have my junior and senior research work supervised by professors who were experts in the Middle East and Brazil, respectively. Majoring in politics provided great opportunities for broad international exposure—especially for a student who had never traveled outside the midwestern United States. Ultimately I graduated with a degree in politics, with certificates in both Afro-American and Latin American studies. My thesis focused on the U.S. military occupation of Haiti, and I was able to conduct substantive original research.

I augmented my undergraduate studies with dual graduate degrees: a Master of Business Administration in finance and a Master of Public Affairs. My undergraduate experience substantially shaped my views of society and the world, while graduate school provided the hands-on training to implement this vision. My studies and extracurricular activities at Princeton helped groom me to become a leader in my field. An investment expert must be proficient in market and securities analysis, but a significant portion of my time is also spent presenting to external constituents, including large clients and the financial press. The energy I expended as a student arguing the merits of divestiture at conferences and speaking at rallies on campus were major contributors to my later professional development.

Real-world applications

After nearly 20 years working in asset management, I joined Credit Suisse as the global head of equities for the asset management division. In this role I oversee investment professionals around the globe in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. My objective is not only to provide superior investment products representing these regions, but also to offer investment solutions to clients in emerging areas where wealth creation is just becoming a reality. One benefit of the socially responsible investment environment that crystallized during my years at Princeton is that my teams also offer a range of mandates that incorporate ethical objectives into funds focused on global sustainability. And we can respond quickly to client concerns should they wish to avoid investments in controversial industries and other global hot spots.

My decision to pursue an investment career was clearly shaped by my experiences as a student leader and politics major at Princeton. I expect those lessons learned will continue to benefit me throughout my career in asset management.

“Majoring in politics provided great opportunities for broad international exposure—especially for a student who had never traveled outside the midwestern United States.”