Lloyd Blankfein Biography
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Lloyd Craig Blankfein
Born in: New York City, New York, United States
Famous as: CEO of Goldman Sachs
Spouse/Ex-: Laura Jacobs Blankfein (m. 1983)
father: Seymour Blankfein
children: Alex Blankfein, Jonathan Blankfein, Rachel Blankfein
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Harvard Law School (1978), Harvard College (1975)
Lloyd Blankfein is the Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, a renowned securities and investment banking firm. He is a living embodiment of the cherished “American Dream”, having blazed a trail from South Bronx, his birthplace, to the boardroom of one of the world’s biggest investment firms. While studying at Thomas Jefferson High School, he toiled as a lifeguard to earn some money as well as to keep himself in shape. With his father doing the graveyard shift at a post office and his mother employed as a receptionist in a firm dealing with burglar alarms, he peddled peanuts, soda, and hotdogs at Yankee Stadium to make ends meet. He secured the highest marks in the class of 1971 at Thomas Jefferson, making him eligible to deliver the valedictorian address. When Harvard came recruiting at his high school, he was picked up and scholarships as well as grants were offered so that he could enroll. After graduating from Harvard he went to Harvard Law School, and soon after landed a job at Donovan Leisure, a conservative law firm. He was turned away by Goldman Sachs when he applied for a position for the first time but entered the firm eventually as an employee of J. Aron & Company—a subsidiary of Goldman. What happened thereafter is history!
- Lloyd Blankfein was born on 15th September 1954 in The Bronx borough of New York City to Jewish parents. He spent the first three years of his life in South Bronx and afterwards his family shifted to Linden Houses complex in East Brooklyn in quest of a quality life.
- Blankfein remembers his father, Seymour Blankfein, being sacked from his job as a bakery truck driver, following which he started working in the post office close to their home, segregating mail. His father did the night shift as the late shift paid a 10% higher salary.
- Lloyd’s mother contributed to the family income by working as a receptionist in a company that sold burglar alarms. He and his grandmother shared a bedroom while his older sister, a divorcee, lived with her son in the adjacent bedroom, and his parents stayed in another room.
- Blankfein, as a kid, attended a primary school—the Hebrew school at B’nai Israel—situated near the Linden Housing Complex. Later on when he moved to Brooklyn, he started attending Thomas Jefferson High School. He excelled in swimming in high school and was voted the valedictorian since he topped the class of 1971.
- To pay his way through high school as well as to make some money for his personal expenses, he sold soda and hot dogs at Yankee Stadium and also served as a lifeguard. He was a natural choice when Harvard academicians visited Thomas Jefferson for recruiting meritorious pupils.
- He received both scholarship and grants for attending Harvard and recollects finding himself in the company of opulent prepsters who had already decided where to go after college. He worked in the cafeteria in his freshman and sophomore years so as to fund his studies and pay for sundry expenses.
- He received his B.A. degree (with a major in history) from Harvard College in 1975. He remembers feeling extremely “insecure” and found college life “intimidating” as he hailed from an economically-poor background. Nevertheless, it was exactly those feelings that goaded him to persevere and complete the course.
- He was inspired to apply to Harvard Law School as a fellow pupil in his elementary school had told him that he looked like a “Philadelphia lawyer”. He earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School in 1978.
- After receiving his J.D. certification, Lloyd Blankfein applied to several law firms for an entry-level position; notable amongst them were his applications to ‘Proskauer Rose LLP’ and ‘Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine.’ He had a stint with Proskauer Rose, a global law firm with its headquarters in New York City, before joining Donovan Leisure in 1982.
- He worked as an associate in Donovan Leisure for four years and gradually realized that his calling lay not in a legal career but in Wall Street—the Holy Grail of budding financial executives. Unfortunately, his applications to Goldman Sachs, Dean Witter, and Morgan Stanley were turned down.
- He saw a flicker of hope when he received a job offer from J. Aron & Commodities‘—a relatively unknown commodities trading firm—which Goldman Sachs had acquired in November 1981. He moved to London towards the end of 1982 to trade in commodities from J. Aron’s bullion sales desk.
- When Goldman had taken over J. Aron, the latter had been steadily losing money. After Lloyd joined, he labored hard and was played a key role in turning around J. Aron’s fortunes by clinching an impressively profitable deal supervising a $100 million hedge fund for a client.
- Lloyd gradually worked his way up at J. Aron and became the co-manager of the ‘Currency and Commodities Division’ of Goldman Sachs in 1994. Later he was promoted to the position of vice-chairman, helming the ‘Equities Division’ and the ‘Fixed Income, Currency, and Commodities Division’.
- Lloyd Blankfein was appointed the chairman and CEO of Goldman in 2006, making him one of the best paid executives in Wall Street. He received a hefty bonus which was proportionate to the massive net earnings of Goldman that was about $9.5 billion.
- During his first year as CEO, he was rewarded with $27.3 million in cash while the balance was offered in the form of ESOPs (employee stock options) while in 2007, his overall compensation was $53.7 million. His total earnings in 2014 and 2015 were US$24 million and US$23 million respectively.
- Blankfein found himself entangled in legal issues when ‘Financial Times’ named him as its “2009 Person of the Year”. In 2010, he had to bear witness before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that was constituted solely for reviewing Goldman Sachs’s role as a liquidity provider.
- Lloyd, as the head honcho of Goldman, again had to testify before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee of the US Congress to contest the charges of gross financial mismanagement leveled against the investment banking firm. Goldman was indicted by the subcommittee in 2011 of hoodwinking clients into making complicated mortgage-based investments in 2007.
- Luckily for Lloyd Blankfein, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations did not attach any charges of willfully misleading the panel against him. He received a total compensation of US$22.3 million as Goldman’s chairman and CEO in 2016.
- Lloyd Blankfein’s perspective about his political affiliation mirrors an ambivalent stand as he is registered as a Democrat but is remarkably orthodox on fiscal matters like Rockefeller Republicans or Liberal Republicans. He has donated largely to candidates of Democratic Party, including a $4,600 contribution to Hillary Clinton in 2007.
- Blankfein has served the Human Rights Campaign as its spokesperson, advocating strongly in support of gay marriages. He visited the White House on multiple occasions in his official capacity and donated to Roy Blunt and Rob Portman, both Republicans, during their Senate reelection runs.
- He kindled a huge controversy towards the end of 2009, when he told an interviewer of a periodical that he was “doing God’s work” as an investment banker. Later on, he, as the chief executive of Goldman tendered an apology publicly for his off-the-cuff and irreverent remark.
- In 2009 when the global economic crisis was at its peak, Goldman Sachs made an announcement that the investment banking firm was pledging $500 million to entrepreneurs for establishing startups.
- Lloyd Blankfein has served as a board/trustee member of several charitable organizations including the Robin Hood Foundation, a charity based in New York City that focuses on lessening poverty in the metropolis. He has also been on the boards of Weill Cornell Medical College and Partnership for New York City.
- Lloyd Blankfein is married to Laura Jacobs who is an attorney by profession. The couple has one daughter, Rachel, and two sons, Jonathan and Alexander.
- In 2015, he underwent diagnostic assays which confirmed that he had lymphoma following which he received chemotherapy as a treatment. He is cured and healthy as of 2017.
- Blankfein lives with Laura in Manhattan and also own homes in Bridgehampton and Sagaponack hamlets in Suffolk County in the state of New York.
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