Gary Cohn is currently the COO and President of Goldman Sachs. For a long time, he has been widely perceived as the likely successor of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
A recently published Fortune article suggested that the succession could happen as soon as this summer, perhaps even against the preference of Blankfein.
The Fortune piece cited “a Goldman executive and a source close to the firm.”
Speaking on CNBC TV on Tuesday, Katie Benner, author of Fortune article, thinks Blankfein prefers to stay CEO for “much longer.” However, the board of Goldman Sachs would like to see a “change happen as soon as this summer.”
“So many banks have had a change at the top…and there are so many good reasons for it,” said Benner, presumably referring to the reputational damage (in the eyes of the general public) Wall Street banks and their CEOs have suffered during the financial crisis.
If Blankfein were to resign this year, Cohn may be the only Goldman Sachs executive capable of filling the CEO roll, said Benner.
Below is a timeline of Cohn’s career:
- While attending American University, Cohn had an unpaid internship at Shearson Loeb Rhoades, a brokerage firm. He also borrowed $10,000 from his grandmother, made a profit by trading gold but eventually lost the profit through other trades (Source: WSJ)
- Upon graduation in April 1982, Cohn had no job, no interviews and no prospects. He decided to move back to his parents' home and “started having a great time enjoying” life. Eventually, he landed a job at United States Steel’s home products division (Source: AU Speech)
- Later in 1982, Cohn was sent by United States Steel to work in its Long Island office for a week. On Friday of that week, he left early and went to the commodities exchange center in New York. He ended up in front of the security entrance of the trading floors and stood there for about three or four hours, hoping to secure a job. He eventually “gave up” and started to head home. Then, he heard a person announcing his intention to go to the airport and convinced that person to share a cab with him. During the cab ride, Cohn asked for a job and was “grilled” on his knowledge of the financial markets. The last question he was asked was how much he knew about options, to which Cohn responded with “everything…no problem, I’m your guy.” Cohn, in fact, did not know much about options. Over the weekend, he read Options as a Strategic Investment four times, came back the following Monday and landed the job (Source: AU Speech)
- At Cohn’s first job, he was known as “Gum Guy” because a part of his responsibilities was holding a trader’s chewing gum (Source: WSJ)
- In 1983, Cohn struck out on his own and traded silver using his own capital. He would do this for the next seven years (Source: WSJ)
- In 1990, Cohn went to work for Goldman Sachs, although he took a pay cut by doing so (Source: WSJ)
- At some point in Cohn’s Goldman Sachs career, Cohn traded metals, including making a name for himself through trading aluminum (Source: WSJ)
- In 1994, Cohn was invited to become a partner at Goldman Sachs (Source: Bloomberg)
- In 1996, Cohn was name the global head of Goldman Sach’s commodities business (Source: Bloomberg)
- In 2000, Cohn took over Goldman Sach’s mortgage unit, which at that time traded $1 billion in securities per week. Three years later, its weekly volume expanded to $50 billion.
- In 2003, Cohn became the co-head of Goldman Sach’s global securities business (Source: Bloomberg)
- In 2006, Cohn, along with Jon Winkelried, was named co-president and co-COO upon the departure of former CEO Hank Paulson and the appointment of Blankfein in the CEO position. In March 2009, Winkelried left Goldman Sachs, leaving Cohn as the sole president and COO of the firm (Source: CNN Money)
- In late 2009, Cohn led efforts to pitch a deal to Greece that “would have pushed debt from Greece’s health care system far into the future, much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards.” Greece did not end up taking the deal (Source: NYTimes)
- Cohn, along with Blankfein, has “been instrumental in Goldman's controversial transformation from an elite private partnership with a reputation as a sober adviser on corporate mergers to a take-no-prisoners public company increasingly focused on using its own capital to drive its business for clients, counterparties and the firm's own trading accounts” (Source: Bloomberg)
- Cohn is known to have an “abrasive style, an appetite for risk and a long association with Blankfein” (Source: Bloomberg)
- One of Cohn’s personal mantras is “work hard, ask questions and take risk” (Source: AU Speech)