BizFeed: Stress Linked to Wharton Grad’s Death?
1. Did Stress Kill a 22-Year-Old?
The News: Sarvshreshth Gupta was ready to tackle life at Goldman Sachs. A 22-year-old Penn graduate from Wharton and the School of Engineering, Gupta worked for the Wall Street giant in San Francisco, but found that the job entailed extremely long hours and sleepless nights. That was after surviving Penn, recently named one of the “most stressful” universities in the United States. In fact, he reportedly told his father: “This job is not for me. Too much work and too little time.”
The New York Times has more:
“He calls us and says, ‘It is too much. I have not slept for two days, have a client meeting tomorrow morning, have to complete a presentation, my V.P. is annoyed and I am working alone in my office,’ ” his father wrote. “I got furious. ‘Take 15 days leave and come home,’ I said. He quipped, ‘They will not allow.’ I said, ‘Tell them to consider this as your resignation letter.’ ”
Mr. Gupta told his father that he would work for another hour, then head to his home a half-mile from the office, and return in the morning.
Later that morning, at 6:40, Mr. Gupta was found in the parking lot next to his apartment building on the corner of Sacramento Street and Brooklyn Place and was declared dead, according to police officials. He apparently fell from the building.
Why it Matters: Stress-related deaths are nothing new. Wall Street has a culture of being particularly rough on newbies. I’m all for a competitive culture, but health has to come first. Gupta actually did quit but soon came back to Goldman. To the company’s credit, it reportedly offered reduced hours and counseling services. Still, his death highlights how stress can really take its toll.
Stress for young bankers has come under scrutiny in the last two years. This conversation really began back in August 2013 when Bank of America intern Mortiz Erhardt passed away after reportedly working consecutive all-nighters at the bank’s London office.
Banks have been trying to do more to improve the lifestyles of their employees, especially the younger ones. A handful of firms have implemented policies where junior bankers are supposed to unplug on weekends, even from email.
Mr. Gupta’s death, one of numerous unexpected deaths or suicides of young bankers over the last year, has caused a new round of reflection and re-evaluation by Goldman and other Wall Street firms about their work policies just two weeks before a new class of college interns descend on the industry for the summer.
Just last week, Thomas J. Hughes, a 29-year-old banker at Moelis & Company, was found dead with drugs in his system after falling from a building in Manhattan.
“The only explanation is that I know he’s been working very hard and has been under a lot of pressure,” Mr. Hughes’s father told The Daily Mail. “His work did not leave much time for enjoyment, but that’s the nature of the assignment that he chose.” An investigation is pending to determine the official cause of death.
2. The Economy Recovered, So Where’s My Raise?
The News: In 33 metro areas, employment rates have returned to pre-recessions levels — but worker pay is still lagging behind. The data comes from a Wall Street Journal analysis of Labor Department data. (Philly was not included.)
Why it Matters: Although pay is up 2.6 percent in the first quarter and big employers like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s announced forthcoming pay raises, salaries are still lower than economists expect.
The WSJ offers a few reasons:
• Companies tapping pools of workers who have disappeared from the U.S. unemployment tallies, creating what economists describe as hidden slack in the economy. Until this invisible labor supply is spent, these men and women, including part-timers, temporary workers and discouraged labor-market dropouts, could hold wages down.
• The blunt force of overseas competition makes companies reluctant to raise pay over fears they will lose sales to cheaper-priced foreign firms.
• Lingering psychological scars of a recession long past. Robert Gordon, an economics professor at Northwestern University, said his research found that wages and inflation were subject to inertia. That means unemployment could drop well below 5.5% for years before wages go up much.
• Meager growth in productivity, which limits the incentive of companies to offer raises.
3. Showtime is Latest Network to Offer Standalone Service
The News: Fans of Shameless, Homeland and Dexter have a new way to watch their favorite Showtime shows — via a new standalone service launching in July. It will cost just $10.99, less than the new HBO Now which stands at $14.99 per month.
Why it Matters: It’s another reason for Comcast customers to cut the cord and watch TV via the Internet. Many customers are choosing Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and other services to stream shows, rather than paying monthly cable bills to Comcast, Time Warner Cable or other providers. And Showtime is a particularly popular network that should lead more customers away from monthly cable bills.