Dean C. Backer ’88
Managing Director and Partner
Goldman Sachs

Dean C. BackerDean Backer’s fascination with Wall Street started in junior high school and continued as he worked on a business major at his first-choice school: the University at Albany. Sports held an equal appeal. Backer played soccer and baseball through high school and continued playing soccer in college, giving it up after one season to raise his grades for entry into the School of Business. 

He began his first and only internship, at Kidder Peabody, on an ominous date, October 19, 1987, Black Monday. The worldwide stock market crash did not deter him, and only strengthened his attraction to finance.

After beginning his career at Andersen Consulting, Backer was recruited by Goldman Sachs, an Andersen client. Twenty-five years later, Backer is a member of Goldman Sach’s “Quarter Century Club,” a small group that includes not only partners, but all employees who have logged 25 years with the firm, right down to the person in the mailroom. 

Backer oversees and serves as global head of sales and capital introduction in the global securities service business. “Educated risk-taking” helped him get there. One decision was more significant than he could have predicted. After a year on the job, Goldman offered him a chance to prove himself. Backer was invited to be part of a three-person team establishing a trust company for Goldman in the Cayman Islands. They were successful. He returned after three years, became a managing director in 1999 and made partner in 2002. 

The Cayman Islands provided more than a foundation for his career. He met his wife Anna there. They returned to New York together in 1994 and married in 1998. Backer notes that most of his wedding party were grade-school friends and college roommates. 

The Goldman partner asserts that his success was a result of hard work, good luck, timing, his “first-class education” at UAlbany and the guidance of the late School of Business advisor John Levato. Levato regularly hosted Backer and his suitemates at the Italian-American Center to feast on spaghetti and meatballs and talk. He said, “John started as an advisor, became a mentor and ended as a friend.” Backer feels that Bill Roller, director of development for the School of Business, embodies much of Levato’s spirit. “There is a lot of John Levato in Bill Roller. He helps me figure out how I can be involved.”

Backer said, “I would not be at Goldman Sachs without UAlbany and the internship that John helped arrange. I feel that I owe the school a lot. They did a great job educating me at a great value.” To that end, Backer feels a strong commitment to UAlbany and the need to give back. He supports the school through the Dean C. Backer ‘88 Scholarship, membership on the Dean’s Advisory Board and mentoring students. 

Backer is a recipient of the University at Albany Alumni Association Excellence in Business Award. He is the board president and chairperson of Help for Children, a nonprofit that funds organizations combating child abuse. Additionally, he serves on the boards of CDI, an organization that provides free academic, career readiness and social services to public school students, the UJA Federation of New York and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

The Backers live in New York City with their two daughters, Chelsea, aged 14 and Phoebe, aged 12. Both attend Friends Seminary in New York. The family travels, skis and scuba dives.