How Working 100-Hour Weeks Is Killing Young Bankers
Armed with two degrees from UPenn, Sav Gupta began at Goldman Sachs full of promise. Less than a year into a grueling schedule, he fell to his death.
A young Goldman Sachs analyst from India was chasing the American dream. His new job at the storied investment firm made relatives swell with pride, and the 22-year-old recruit wrote up lists of gifts to buy with his future wealth.
But after months of working close to 100-hour weeks, Sarvshreshth Gupta was dead. His father said the job ended up eating him alive.
“This job is not for me,” Gupta told his dad before he died in April, apparently of suicide. “Too much work and too little time. I want to come back home.”
A graduate of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, Gupta was armed with two degrees and buoyed by a Goldman job offer after his May 2014 graduation.
The New Delhi native quickly moved to San Francisco, where he would join Goldman’s telecommunications, media, and technology group—a position requiring a string of all-nighters that became too much to bear.
As 20-hour days gave way to 100-hour weeks, the student who held so much promise was reaching his breaking point. Not a year after taking the job, Gupta was found dead in a parking lot next to his apartment, The New York Times reported.
Gupta’s tragic demise is just one in a spate of banker deaths that has led to increasing scrutiny of Wall Street’s backbreaking workload for young employees.
In 2013, a 21-year-old Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern in London died of an epileptic seizure after working 72 hours straight.
Last week, a 29-year-old who worked for the investment bank Moelis & Co. fell to his death during a cocaine-fueled party at his Lower Manhattan luxury pad. The man’s father said his son was plagued with stress and forced to work on a recent trip to the Bahamas.
Gupta’s relatives did not return messages left by The Daily Beast. His father, however, described the honors student’s heartbreaking demise in a May 19 essay on Medium.com, “A Son Never Dies.” The post has since been removed.
Grieving dad Sunil Gupta details the happiness he felt upon discovering his only son had landed a spot at Penn, where he went on to study computer science at the university’s engineering school and finance at the Wharton Business School.
“It was a dream come true, for me, who had always wished and dreamed that one day my son would study at an Ivy League college,” Sunil Gupta wrote, adding that his daughter was already an engineer and pursuing a management degree in California.
“Our joy knew no bounds,” he added. “How deceptive some happiness can be, was to be revealed later.”
Known as “Sav” to family and colleagues, the shy Sarvshreshth struggled to make friends during college, his dad wrote. His parents tried to encourage him to attend weekend parties but he lacked confidence.
Still, Gupta excelled academically. His now-defunct LinkedIn profile indicated he worked summers at Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse while at Penn.
As Sav neared graduation, he told his dad, “You have spent a lot on me in Indian currency. Now I will earn in American dollars, and return it all to you.”
“We would laugh and tell him, ‘You please save your money for your life and marriage, we are fine,’” Sunil Gupta recalled.
In June 2014, before Sav started his job, he spent carefree days with his dad and sister, who lives some 40 miles east of San Francisco. He vowed to use his first paychecks to buy jogging shoes, fancy clothes, and iPhones for his parents, his sister, and her husband.
Three months later, the budding analyst was exhausted. Sav could visit his sister and her new baby only on weekends, if at all. He told his dad, “Papa, I do not get enough sleep. I work 20 hours at a stretch.”
“Son, you will ruin your health,” Sunil Gupta replied.
In mid-January 2015, things took a turn for the worse. Sav would increasingly complain about the pressures of his new job, but his dad advised him not to give up.
By the end of March, Sav Gupta had submitted his resignation to Goldman Sachs. He told his father he would return to India and work at his family’s school in Delhi. But Goldman gave him some time to reconsider, and his dad pressured Sav to go back.
Sources familiar with his time at Goldman Sachs said the firm gave the struggling analyst time off to rest and offered him counseling, according to Bloomberg Business. It’s unclear whether he sought help.
By the time Sav’s first year at the firm was up, it was too late.
In the early hours of April 16, the young investment banker was inconsolable. He called his parents at 2:40 a.m. to say, “It is too much. I have not slept for two days, have a client meeting tomorrow morning, have to complete a presentation, my VP is annoyed and I am working alone in my office.”
Sunil suggested his son take 15 days off for a respite in India. Sav said Goldman wouldn’t allow it.
Four hours later, the young man was found dead in a parking lot next to his apartment building, police said. It appears he fell from the building. A spokesman for the San Francisco medical examiner’s office, which hasn’t declared a cause of death, told The Daily Beast an investigation is still ongoing.
For Sunil Gupta, the regret of pushing his son to keep a job that was apparently killing him is still an open wound.
“Now, I, who had nurtured him, carved him, possessed him, took the fatal decision for him,” the heartbroken father wrote. “Why did I ask him to continue? Why didn’t I ask him to come back? What if I had not forced him to continue? What if his company had not given him the window to reconsider his resignation?”
“These painful questions will never be answered,” he added. “There is no power in this universe which can undo the tragedy that hit us.”