Though he now represents the public face of Wall Street, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, started out with humble beginnings, growing up in a public housing project in Brooklyn and attending public schools.
Blankfein is profiled in a recent article in the Financial Times online, where he was chosen Person of the Year by the paper.
He attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where he gained a scholarship and attended Harvard as both an undergrad and law student. Blankfein’s first job was as a lawyer for Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine. He spent four years with the firm, including two years advising Hollywood companies on tax law, where his interest in finance grew.
Both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley turned him down when he applied for his first investment banking job. Blankfein wound up working for the commodities trading firm of J. Aron, which was later acquired by Goldman, providing a back door entry into Goldman. From there, Blankfein worked his way up the trading side of Goldman, as that division contributed an ever-growing share of the firm’s revenues. He became chief executive in 2006, when Hank Paulson was appointed Treasury secretary.
Friends and rivals attribute Blankfein’s success to his smart, engaging, high-energy and quick-witted style. “Lloyd is an extremely rapid learner and exceptionally adaptable. He pretty much sees the world as it is, rather than as he’d like it to be,” says Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, who is quoted in the article.