James Donovan, managing director at Goldman Sachs and adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, is a devoted runner. In an interview with Lindsey Holder, he explained that regular runs have helped him manage stress, stay focused and maintain his health.

Lindsey: When did you start running as a way to manage your stress and health? Was there a particular event that happened that encouraged you to start running or did someone introduce you to it?

Jim Donovan: I started using it to manage stress when I began my career at Goldman Sachs 19 years ago. I found that it was a tremendous relief- a great outlet- for me to run.

I then made certain that I ran for 30-45 minutes every day no matter what. No matter how little I slept and no matter where in the world I happened to be, all I needed was a pair of sneakers and running clothes to start my day. I’ve been a convert ever since.

Lindsey: Fueling your body is just as important as running itself. What are your go to power foods you have before and after your run?

Jim: I don’t eat before my runs, but right after my run I eat a breakfast of fruit (bananas and apples) and granola cereal with milk.

But no one should think that Jim Donovan is only devoted to running- not at all. Jim Donovan also is devoted to his lovely family. As the father of four children, he has transmitted the message about the importance of giving to others to his offspring. Each year, as an act of kindness and to transmit the message of the importance of giving, James Donovan takes their four children to local soup kitchens and help distribute food to those less fortunate.


James Donovan, managing director at Goldman Sachs, is known for his down-to-earth approach to teaching as a professor at the University of Virginia.

In one of his lectures, he explained that language and conversational skills are extremely important for a businessman.

“Take classes in the law and business section,” he suggests. “You will learn about the world in which your clients live and you will learn their jargon. This way you won’t be intimidated by the business lingo because it really is just a thin veneer- so learn the language!”

He adds, “Use a pregnant pause while you’re talking to someone- it elicits conversation and feedback from the other side. It also forces you to slow down if you’re nervous.”

As a managing director at Goldman Sachs, University of Virginia professor James Donovan has extensive personal experience in the business world. During his “Outside the Box” lecture, Donovan explained that client relationships can be strengthened significantly when the whole picture is acknowledged.

“If they [the client] think of you as their trusted financial advisor, they’re going to call you when they need help instead of going piecemeal to different bankers, or different people, or different firms. It allowed me to box out the competition.”

In his efforts to support the work of the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute, James Donovan hosts an annual breakfast and participates in road races which both raise money for ‘Mission Possible: The Dana-Farber Campaign to Conquer Cancer.’

As a loving father and family man with four children, Jim Donovan has always striven to teach his offspring the importance of giving to others, and his dedication to working for Dana-Farber is part of that philosophy.

Jim Donovan also serves on the Board of Trustees of the DFCI and established a fund for prostate cancer research in 2008 in honor of a close friend.

Mr. Donovan is also a member of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, another division of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. The center is a revolutionary treatment and research facility which utilizes the expertise of medical, urologic and radiation oncologists. As discoveries are made they are brought directly to the bedside of patients, allowing the most advanced research and information to help cancer patients, while information gained from the patients and their treatment is brought back to the laboratory for further research.

James Donovan, Goldman Sachs managing director and adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, often draws on his personal experience during his lectures.

He explains that the two essential components to a successful workplace; excellence and strong relationships. He went on to add that it is important to take pride in what you do, and do it well. Confidence, he says, encourages trust.

“By building solid relationships, you will create a web of professionals within which you will be well know and well respected. And that’s good for any business across the board,” he said.

He added: “Remember, study what you enjoy, demonstrate your excellence and your interest, be conversant in as many languages as possible, build solid relationships, create a strong professional network and always take time off.”

Jim Donovan Goldman, Sachs, & Co.
J.D., Harvard Law School, 1993
M.B.A., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989
B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989
Jim Donovan is responsible for advising many of the largest corporate and individual clients of Goldman Sachs. Donovan joined Goldman Sachs in 1993 and was named managing director in 2000. During his career at Goldman Sachs, he has worked in Investment Banking, Investment Management, and on Corporate Strategy for the firm. He is the head of Strategic Lead Management, the Client Experience Task Force and the chairman of Investment Management Division Labs for Goldman.

Donovan earned his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from MIT and an M.B.A. from MIT Sloan School in 1989. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1993. He serves on the Corporation Development Committee (CDC) for MIT, the Athletic Committee for MIT, is a Friend of MIT Crew and a former MIT Crew Varsity Oarsman. In addition, Donovan established an MIT Scholarship Fund in 2000 to assist incoming students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds

Donovan serves on the Board of Trustees of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), is a member of The Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, and established a fund for cancer research at DFCI in 2008 in honor of his late friend, who died of cancer. Jim also co-hosts an annual breakfast fundraiser for the Institute; his gifts provide critical support to Mission Possible: The Dana Farber Campaign to Conquer Cancer.

Donovan is the father to two daughters and two sons. Jim Donovan’s  mother also resides with him in Virginia. An avid runner, he participates in road races to raise money for cancer prevention and treatment. Donovan has been featured in a number of publications for his achievements and contributions, including Fortune Magazine and Harvard Alumni Magazine.