American billionaire Stephen Schwarzman is the Chief Executive Officer of The Blackstone Group, one of the world's leading investment firms with over $600 billion in assets under management. As co-founder and CEO, Schwarzman has been involved in all phases of Blackstone's explosive growth since being launched in 1985.
Previously, the Wall Street mogul began his career at Lehman Brothers, where he was elected managing director in 1978, at the age of 31. Apart from his impressive work resume, Schwarzman is also a generous philanthropist, having already donated hundreds of millions of dollars in support for causes across higher education, culture, and the arts. In 2018, Schwarzman was ranked in the top 50 on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s most powerful people. Two years later he signed The Giving Pledge, committing to give the majority of his three-comma club fortune to charitable causes.
The son of a dry-goods store owner, Schwarzman was a far cry from billionaire philanthropist when he arrived at Yale in 1965. As a freshman in New Haven, he felt like an outsider and recalled how the "loneliness was crushing." Academic life wasn't much better for him either, as he found himself flitting between a plethora of subjects that failed to capture his passion. Then during one summer break between semesters, Schwarzman decided to chase some adventure by landing a job as an engine room wiper on a Norwegian tanker. Eventually, he found his way back to Yale, and he started adjusting, enough so that the notorious Skull and Bones society tapped him to become a member. As graduation approached, he linked up with another Yale alumnus, who invited Schwarzman to join his investment banking firm following the young man's graduation in 1969.
What does a Yale graduate, who stumbles into investment banking, and later becomes one of the world's richest men, do? In the case of Schwarzman, it was become a generous benefactor to his alma mater. Taking time from his global empire, Schwarzman has returned over the years, showing how much he values his Yale connection. He's been a guest lecturer and an official adjunct professor at the Yale School of Management, where he's offered students his invaluable career advice.
Then in 2015, Schwarzman made a staggering gift to the university of $150 million to establish a new construction project on campus. Bearing his name, the Schwarzman Center, is a state-of-the-art cultural hub for students to meet at on campus. It is also the second-largest gift made to Yale in its 300-plus-year history.
"My hope is that the Schwarzman Center will serve as the crossroads for the campus, but also place Yale at the crossroads of the world," said Schwarzman. "The education I received at Yale changed the course of my life. It is now a pleasure to give back by creating something on campus that will be transformational for all members of the Yale community."
Future generations of Yalies will no doubt be benefiting from the work of a man who turned a lonely college experience into one of the biggest American success stories.