“I like doing things that have not been done before,” he says of his decision to go abroad. “There was a strong appeal in building something in a new environment as opposed to being part of an established franchise.”
Mead’s early deals focused on the privatization of government-owned businesses. This work shifted the composition of European economies, pushing previously government-regulated industries such as utilities into the open market.
He currently leads Goldman’s global telecom, media and technology group.
He also serves as chief strategic advisor to Vodafone Airtouch PLC, which he helped to build into the world’s largest mobile network telecommunications company through a series of aggressive acquisitions in the 1990s.
Most recently, Mead engineered Vodafone’s hostile takeover of rival Mannesman AG.
The acquisition, which began in 1999 and is valued at $180 billion, was the largest in history.
“The telecom industry developed a hunt or be hunted philosophy,” Mead says, referring to the pursuit of companies to acquire and control worldwide networks. “And there is a lot of creativity involved in helping companies figure out where they want to take their businesses first.”
When Mead discusses banking, he masks the introspection that characterizes his other thoughts.
“I’ve learned to compartmentalize that side of myself when working on a deal,” he says.
According to Bob Harrison, Goldman’s New York City-based global co-head of telecom, media and technology, Mead’s “extraordinary amount of background, good sense of humor and calm and unflappable demeanor” have enabled him to become a trusted industry advisor and strategist.
While he credits Goldman Sachs for presenting him with “new opportunities and challenges for personal and professional growth,” Mead says he is not content to merely reflect on past success.
He leaves the future open for a breadth of possibilities, hinting that he might become involved in politics.
Having been recently appointed a charter trustee at Andover, Mead also suggests future involvement in education and a renewed interest in photography.
Whatever his future pursuits, Mead says he will continue to seek challenges.
“A risky move,” he says, “is a much more interesting thing to try than something more conventional.”
—Staff writer K. Babi Das can be reached at email@example.com.