NFL Exec Anthony Noto Just Pulled A Rare Move: Returning to Goldman Sachs

Nearly three years after leaving his analyst job at Goldman to become CFO of the football league, Noto on Monday revealed plans to go back to his old firm as co-head of the global media group.

Anthony Noto
Anthony Noto

Few others have done so. An informal poll of current and former Goldman employees generated only one memorable example from recent years: Ed Forst, who is co-head of the firm’s investment management division.

Forst left Goldman to become an executive at Harvard in 2008, only to return after his first school year to be the firm’s new head of strategy. (He then changed roles again.)

Goldman has long been known for early retirement ages — especially since its IPO in 1999, which made some partners very wealthy — and its breeding of both future public servants (Hank Paulson, Jon Corzine) and future hedge-fund rock stars (Eric Mindich, Dinakar Singh).

But Goldman isn’t particularly well known for welcoming back its former partners. Alums say that they aren’t aware of any bias against rehiring. But the combination of burnout and desire for a change of scenery that often prompts senior people to leave Goldman, they say, makes it unlikely that they’ll return. So does the fact that some execs leave the firm for competing banks.

Noto, 42, was a partner and media-stock analyst when he left early in 2008 to become the football league’s CFO.

As chief bean-counter for the NFL, he helped restructure billions of dollars of debt and was heavily involved with the establishment of an annual stress test for the organization’s 32 clubs, says someone close to the matter, in which they had to assess the financial hit they’d taken under various adverse scenarios (like, say, a work stoppage in 2011).

His return was brokered partly by Goldman president Gary Cohn and investment-banking co-head David Solomon, say people familiar with the matter. Talks about the new gig began this summer, and were finalized recently. Noto returns Oct. 18.

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