Martin Chavez represents a departure from the buttoned-up partners of Goldman lore — plutocrats who wore their power on their sleeves and turned the bank into the most vaunted, feared and secretive firm on Wall Street.

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NEW YORK — R. Martin Chavez possesses the light-filled office of a Goldman Sachs partner, with a sweeping view of the Statue of Liberty. But what sets his office apart is the gallery of objects and books arrayed behind the desk.

There is the rose-petal birthday present from his husband — a framed card that says “I love you” in Braille. Below that stands a picture of a wiry terrier named Galahad, acquired as a “sobriety dog” when Chavez stopped drinking in the 1990s. A few feet down, a basketball perches on a shelf.

“Basketball is so not me that I decided to put it up there so people could say, ‘What is Marty doing with a basketball in his office?’ ” he said, bursting into a peal of laughter.

R. Martin Chavez

Age: 52

Hometown: Albuquerque, N.M.

Family: He and his husband have a baby son

On being openly gay on Wall Street: “It can be hard to be out … (but) Manufacturing alternative stories of how you spent your weekend or where you spent your time off, that not only impacts your peace of mind, it also has negative consequences for your career.”

Source: The New York Times

Chavez, who is 52 years old and wears a thick beard, represents a departure from the buttoned-up partners of Goldman lore — plutocrats who wore their power on their sleeves and turned the bank into the most vaunted, feared and secretive firm on Wall Street.

Goldman’s reputation took a beating after the 2008 financial crisis, when Rolling Stone called the firm a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” The current presidential race, echoing with populist, anti-Wall Street messages, is putting the firm’s ruthless reputation in the spotlight again.

Today Goldman is trying to change not only that public image but also some of the central tenets of its culture, like the secrecy and reliance on backroom dealings. The firm’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, has said he wants Goldman to be thought of as a tech company — putting it in direct competition for talent with the Googles and Facebooks of the world. No one is more central to these efforts than Chavez.

Chavez, who was promoted just over two years ago to oversee the firm’s 9,000 or so computer engineers — nearly a third of the staff — is pushing the 147-year-old firm to, among other things, share more of its data and software with clients. His centerpiece project, Marquee, gives clients access to sophisticated trading data previously available only by phoning a Goldman employee.

Marquee is so closely associated with Chavez, in fact, that it was initially called “Martee,” a play on his first name. But it has faced internal resistance. Some colleagues complain the firm is handing out valuable information while paving the way for job cuts.

Chavez has responded forcefully, according to people who witnessed some of these conversations. “He basically said something to the effect of: ‘If your job is a purely manual job and you are just clicking buttons, you should look to upgrade your skills set now,’ ” said Adam Korn, a trading executive. “He was pretty direct.”

Some of Chavez’s ideas about openness date to his early years in Silicon Valley, where sharing is a religion. They haven’t always worked out: At one startup, he proposed publicly posting everyone’s salaries, an unpopular idea.

For Chavez, transparency is a kind of personal credo. He displays his gay and Latino identities proudly, as well as the Japanese tattoos on his arms. Conversations with him routinely turn to the intricacies of marrying his husband, a Briton, and raising their baby son, who was born to a surrogate in California. He urges his colleagues to open up more as well, arguing that it can serve as an antidote to the negative public image of Goldman.

If efforts like his are successful, says Chavez, clients will see “a very different configuration of the financial-services industry than the one we have now.” Goldman will still have the chief product of a bank — money to lend and invest — but he thinks that the ways in which customers access that money will rely more on software and less on the bankers who traditionally delivered Goldman’s services.

Chavez grew up in Albuquerque, N.M., with two parents who had not graduated from college and four siblings. All five of the children went to Harvard. He earned the nickname “motor mouth” from an uncle.

There was, though, at least one thing he didn’t talk about: his sexuality. He only came out the day after he defended his doctoral dissertation at Stanford in medical-information sciences.

The difficulty of being in the closet is part of what convinced Chavez of the importance of transparency. “It can be hard to be out — or one can imagine that it might be hard, which is more often the case,” he wrote in a memo to colleagues in 2011. “But if that imagination leads to holding back, manufacturing alternative stories of how you spent your weekend or where you spent your time off, that not only impacts your peace of mind, it also has negative consequences for your career.”

When a recruiter from Goldman contacted him in the early 1990s, he worried that Wall Street wouldn’t take to his sexuality as kindly as Silicon Valley had. During interviews at the bank, he said, he was impressed by his interviewers’ quick wits. And his future boss took it in stride when Chavez said he was gay.

Soon Chavez was plunged into Goldman’s early efforts to automate its trading business with a computer system, SecDB, which is still the spine of its operations. Within the elite trading division where Chavez was placed, the J. Aron & Co. operation — a shop that groomed many of the firm’s leaders — he worked with Blankfein, now the chief executive, and Gary D. Cohn, now Goldman’s president.

The financial crisis gave Chavez an opening to adopt a more aggressive strategy in his day-to-day work. With Wall Street facing the prospect of declining revenues and rising costs, the firm was receptive to his proposals to standardize and automate more of its trading operations. Part of the savings to Goldman came from job cuts, although the firm does not provide detailed numbers.

He also pitched automation as a way to help Goldman comply with the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, which aimed, in part, to make trading more transparent and easier for regulators to track.

Chavez has not been shy about pushing the firm to embrace social issues as a selling point. He urged the company’s human-resources department to expand benefits to gay partners before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. He then encouraged Blankfein to speak out in support of gay marriage.

Still, he acknowledged, there is much to do. At an event for computer programmers last fall, he joked about Goldman’s lack of diversity.

He was in an office, he said, with a fellow Hispanic executive, when another executive stopped by. “He opens the door, he sticks his head in, and he says, ‘50 percent of the Hispanic partners of Goldman Sachs, right here, right now.’ ” The task now, he said, was to take Goldman “to a different place.”