Classmate Kenneth Ehrlich ’77 says that post-Harvard, Mead could have “pretty much accomplished anything,” and in 2000, when Mead successfully negotiated the largest corporate takeover in history as a partner at Goldman Sachs, the business world agreed.
Sent to London 14 years ago to build Goldman Sachs’ European presence, Mead played a critical role in rooting the U.S.-based investment bank in the volatile and lucrative global telecommunications industry.
His work also dramatically re-engineered the structure of European business, bringing government-owned entities into the private sector.
College friend Louise Goodfell ’75, who took a photography class with Mead at Harvard, says she would have never predicted that he would work in investment banking.
Mead himself is quick to point out that he is not a typical banker.
“I’ve always had a creative and reflective side which was at first difficult to reconcile with the Darwinian, cutthroat atmosphere of an investment bank,” he says.
This type of introspection is common for Mead, who admits that he continuously thinks ahead to his future personal and professional goals.
Mead attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and then spent a semester at Princeton University before transferring to Harvard in 1974.
With his family in nearby Philadelphia, attending Princeton was “not the get-away-to-college type experience,” he says.
At Harvard, Mead, by his own account, was “passionate about everything.” College friends regularly describe him as having been “intense” and multi-talented.
“He was a Renaissance man,” says Jefferson Flanders ’77, who lived with Mead senior year.
Mead concentrated in History and Literature, and fondly remembers poring over books in the stacks of Widener Library while working on his senior thesis.