Former Goldman Sachs president and COO Gary Cohn. Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women
Photograph by Stuart Isett — Fortune Most Powerful Women
By Lucinda Shen
December 13, 2016

After 26 years with Goldman Sachs(gs), Gary Cohn, the bank’s chief operating officer, is preparing to leave for his new position as director of the National Economic Council.

Cohn, 56, spoke in a Goldman Sachs podcast Monday to say goodbye to the bank. His name had previously been floated as a potential pick for the next CEO of the firm. “[It’s] really hard. I always knew I was going to say goodbye,” he said in conversation with Jake Siewart, Goldman’s global head of corporate communications. “Everyone has to leave someday. But it’s hard.”

When asked how he would like to be remembered, Cohn responded that he would like to go down in the bank’s history as a “great partner.”

“Someone who everyone is comfortable with calling. Someone who everyone wanted to work with, someone who everyone wanted their opinion, whether they agreed with me or disagreed with me,” he said. “I think I was a hard worker. I never hesitated to get on a plane. I never hesitated to go somewhere, I never hesitated to deliver the tough message when it needed to be delivered.

“My client relationships were important to me and important to the firm,” he said, adding that he saw over 500 clients annually.

Cohn also had only praise for the investment banking giant.

“Goldman Sachs has a unique culture, and it’s a culture that continues to evolve,” he said. “I felt like I was part of the culture, and I was part of the evolution of the culture. I was here as a private company, I was here through the IPO, I’ve been here through the transition into a very public company, where the vast majority of people don’t even remember Goldman Sachs, the private firm.”

President-elect Donald Trump has added several members with ties to Goldman Sachs to his nascent administration. He picked Goldman alumnus Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, while another Goldman alumnus, Steve Bannon, is now a senior strategist at the White House. That comes despite Trump’s criticism of the bank and Wall Street on the campaign trial.

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