AIB Featured Business Leader Michael Bloomberg
The name ‘Bloomberg’ is likely to sound familiar for the majority of you, as it is the multi-billion dollar global financial data and media organisation. Despite becoming the world’s 13th richest person this year, you may not yet be acquainted with the name ‘Michael Bloomberg’ if you don’t live in the state of New York. Michael Bloomberg is the man behind Bloomberg L.P., former Mayor of New York City, and was born in Boston in 1942. The now business magnate, politician and philanthropist graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, as well as receiving his Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
After several years of working his way up with his qualifications, Bloomberg became a general partner at Salomon Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank in 1973. He worked for the organisation for eight years before it was bought out and he was laid off with a $10 million severance package. It is this set back which gave him the opportunity to create his own company, which he named Innovative Market Systems (IMS). The IMS business plan was based on Bloomberg’s experiences on Wall Street, and the realisation that the financial community was willing to pay for high quality business information, delivered as quickly as possible. In 1982, Merrill Lynch became IMS’ first customer, installing 22 of the terminals, and investing $30 million into the organisation. In 1987 IMS changed to Bloomberg L.P. and by 1990 had installed 8,000 terminals around the world.
What is interesting about Bloomberg’s career progression is not how he built the company from one product, but how he continued to innovate and introduce a number of new subsidiaries. These included Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Message and Bloomberg Tradebook which saw the company sell more than 310,000 terminals worldwide by 2012. He also established Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2004, a charitable organisation which focuses resources on the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education.
While Bloomberg did leave the position of CEO at Bloomburg L.P. to pursue his political career, his attitude towards leadership and innovation was demonstrated throughout his tenure as Mayor. In 2012 he explained his thoughts about the relationship of leadership and innovation to Forbes Magazine, stating “I think the best leaders incentivise, inspire, and empower their teams to be creative and innovative. It’s not about one person; it’s about building a culture where innovation is prized – and expected”. His approach has always been to empower his team, remove the barriers which prevent new ideas from emerging and to support those who take smart risks and fail.
Overall, it is clear that Michael Bloomberg has built quite the career from his early days with a bachelor and MBA in hand. I am curious to hear from readers though – which of his achievements or business decisions do you find most admirable? Comment below and join the AIB conversation.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article:
Photo credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig