Bracha Cohen Rises Through the Ranks at Goldman Sachs
Touro’s Lander College of Arts & Sciences Alumna Parlays Love of Learning into Career Triumphs
Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences graduate Bracha Cohen is an unlikely superstar. This Brooklyn mother of seven has risen through the ranks of Goldman Sachs by doing what comes naturally to her—mastering new skills and learning new business areas.
Cohen chose Touro because it offered a strong education in a women-only setting, and supported her values as a seminary graduate. There, she focused on computer programming, enjoying the analytical and creative aspects of the field. She also thought it would be a sensible career choice, offering flexibility if she needed it.
“Touro gave me a solid foundation in the concepts of computer programming and in the programming languages that were used then,” she said. ”I was well prepared for my first job, and I have been able to learn on the job since then,” Cohen said. A pragmatist, she focused on her own goals and was not distracted by the fact that fewer than 30 percent of computer science degrees were awarded to women.
From Testing Software to Identifying Opportunities for a Unit that Manages $2 Trillion
At Goldman Sachs, where she began as a programmer, Cohen now coheads a division of 700 programmers in the Asset Management division, which manages over two trillion dollars. This brand-new division is a merger of two units and Cohen is identifying convergence opportunities in bringing them together. “I started out writing and testing software 26 years ago, but I have made several moves to support different business areas. In the process, my roles have become less hands-on; instead, I began leading and overseeing other developers. Now I focus on identifying emerging opportunities and setting priorities for technology.”
When asked how the field has changed over the course of her career, Cohen asks rhetorically, “what hasn’t changed?” and then answers, “when I started in tech, it was mostly a substitute for manually producing a report. There have been so many disruptors—the cloud, machine learning, artificial intelligence—it has been a massive transformation. I am always learning and it never gets boring.”
Cohen honed her skills at home as well as at work. “I have many children, so I learned to be very organized and structured and to delegate on the home front. Those are useful skills at work. One of my daughters is currently a student at Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush.” As a frum woman, Bracha strategically built support to manage her schedule by volunteering for assignments on secular holidays when her colleagues need to take off. Goldman Sachs also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, understanding that different types of thought leaders develop better products.
Cohen offered this advice for computer science students at Touro today, “You can’t expect to operate with the same languages throughout your career; focus on the concepts because they will always be useful. Also, try to make sure you thoroughly understand the business or real-world problems that is being solved with the software you are creating; you will create a far better product that way. Finally, remember that soft skills are an important part of any job. You need to be a team player and communicate well.”