Childhood & Early Life
Born in 1957, to Frieda, a psychologist, and to Dr. Dan Porat, a physicist, in Sale, a town in England’s Cheshire county, Ruth was one of the three children in the family. She has a brother Marc and a younger sister Naomi.
Her family moved to California when she was five-years old, where she graduated from Stanford University with an economics degree, followed by an MSc. in Industrial Relations from LSE (London School of Economics), and completed her MBA from Pennsylvania University’s Wharton School.
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Ruth Porat began her career in 1987 with Morgan Stanley’s Mergers & Acquisitions department and worked through surviving the stock market crash.
She left Morgan Stanley, following the outgoing President Robert F. Greenhill to join Smith Barney; however, upon realizing her mistake, she did everything she could to get back.
Finally, in 1996, she got the opportunity to return to Morgan Stanley, albeit in a demoted position in the company.
She was made head of the technology banking department in 2000 and relocated to London to work on helping businesses like Priceline, Netscape, eBay and Amazon go public and get funding.
The same year, Ruth Porat and Mary Meeker led the team working on solutions to keep client companies afloat during the dot-com crash.
She was made Vice Chairman of the Investment Banking division and served at this position from 2003 to 2009. Within that period (specifically 2006 to 2009) she also held the post of Global Head for the financial institution, thus making her the face of the firm during the financial crisis.
She guided the United States Department of Treasury through the course of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac takeover and also helped the New York Federal Reserve Bank deal with AIG in 2008.
In January 2010, she was made the Chief Financial Officer and EVP at Morgan Stanley.
She made a presentation on the reforms and financial legislations to follow, post the crisis period, to Bretton Woods Committee in May 2011, and spoke about the importance of trust within the financial sector, at the World Economic Forum in 2013.
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Apparently, she was in consideration for the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury by President Barack Obama in 2013, but later reports suggest she requested that her nomination be withdrawn.
Ruth left Morgan Stanley to join Alphabet Inc. in May 2015 and took up the position of CFO and Senior VP. There, her umbrella of responsibility covered Business Operations, People Operations, and Real Estate Services along with the Finance division.
Her mature approach, discipline in handling expenses by cutting down financing for impractical projects, and focus on increasing capital, earned Ruth trust of the company’s investors.
In 2018, she supported the mass protest by Google employees that helped in putting an end to forced arbitration in sexual harassment cases.
While advertising has been Google’s biggest revenue generator, under Ruth’s leadership and planning, the company has reported a steady increase in its non-advertising earnings as well. The firm has also been working towards ensuring better data protection for its users in 2019, by shutting down Google+, its data breach point.
Ruth Porat is a member on the council of several advisory boards, vice chair of Stanford University’s Board of Trustees, and a Board of Director of its management company.
Ruth Porat along with Mary Meeker is credited to have played a pivotal role in finding the solution to European debt financing and saving many companies, including Amazon, from the dot-com crash in 2000.
In the financial crisis of 2008, Ruth led Morgan Stanley’s team of advisors to help the US Treasury Department takeover Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. She also played an important advisory role in the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s dealing of insurance firm AIG.
Awards & Achievements
Ruth’s career was a topic studied in the 2009 book ‘How Remarkable Women Lead’ by McKinsey & Company written by Joanna Barsh & Susie Cranston.
Institutional Investor magazine, has named her as the ‘Best Financial Institution CFO’ in the year 2014 and ‘Best Internet CFO’ in 2018.
She was ranked 21 on the Forbes list of world’s most powerful women and 9th on the most powerful women list by Fortune magazine in 2018.