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by Vault-Firsthand | June 21, 2023


Susie Choi and Sam Johnson are part of the Consumer Group at Harris Williams, an investment bank specializing in M&A advisory services. Susie is an associate; Sam is an analyst. The two have worked closely together on multiple deals out of the firm’s San Francisco office. Below, they share some advice they’ve learned on the job together that’s been key to their collective success.

1. Anticipating the needs of senior bankers and clients makes everyone’s life easier.

Sam: Susie and I are constantly talking through the best ways to present information, work efficiently, and provide quality work. Doing so varies from manager to manager and client to client. You have to be agile.

Susie: We imagine what the senior bankers on our team need to achieve the best outcome for our client, then we figure out how we can help them get there. Taking on as much responsibility as possible throughout a deal process helps your career as well as your senior team. It helps that we have daily access to senior leadership at Harris Williams.

2. Making your voice heard ensures that clients see the value you’re adding and helps you build effective client relationships.

Sam: The senior bankers on our teams are incredibly supportive of giving us airtime with the leaders of the companies we advise. I’ve learned so much through client interactions and senior team mentorship along the way.

Susie: We are given the agency to have both our voices heard on calls with management teams. From large diligence calls to smaller workstream focused meetings, we build relationships with our clients, and they see the value in our work.

3. Mastering basic workstreams is key to unlocking opportunities beyond your level.

Sam: We’re in charge of key workstreams that contribute to the pitch, projection model, CIM, management presentation, data pack, and the analysis behind buyer requests. All these materials are crucial to a successful transaction.

Susie: Completing these workstreams efficiently is important for your career growth. Once you master them, you progress from taking directions toward leading deal activities.  

4. Making a conscious effort to understand your teammates’ work preferences should be the first step in every new deal.

Sam: Often, we make assumptions about how other people want to communicate or get work done. It’s important to avoid these assumptions by asking simple questions early on. For example: “How do you like to receive feedback?” or “How can we both utilize our strengths to help maximize efficiency in this workstream?”

Susie: I’m a big fan of putting pen to paper. I like to write out ideas and lists, but I know this might not be the best way for a teammate to consume my thoughts. Finding ways to adjust is important to ensure clear communication. Just ask what people prefer—they’ll appreciate the initiative.

5. Dedicating time to building a real relationship with your fellow analyst/associate will make your work better.

Sam: Developing a friendly relationship outside of work and understanding each other’s lives, interests, and priorities allows us to be the best teammates. We can effectively cover for each other, provide flexibility, and try to make each other’s lives easier because we’re close friends and value and respect each other’s time.

Susie: We’re lucky that this collaborative mindset is the standard throughout Harris Williams. People think of you as a person first, banker second. It makes our work better and more creative. Plus, it’s more enjoyable.

Learn more about life at Harris Williams.

This post was sponsored by Harris Williams.