Bloomberg President Daniel Doctoroff Speaks on Innovation in a Crisis in Leaders Forum Talk
Daniel L. Doctoroff has repeatedly overcome adversity, which is one reason why he’s so optimistic about the future. Doctoroff, the president of Bloomberg, graduated from college in the middle of the last deep recession; after working for Lehman Brothers for a few years, he started his own financial firm just two months before the 1987 market crash; he became New York City deputy mayor in the months after 9/11; and he left the city to take the helm of Bloomberg just before the current financial crisis. "I’m still here," he said. "My firm survived and actually prospered. New York City came back stronger than ever. And believe it or not, Bloomberg is thriving through this period. The lesson is the same if you’re talking about an individual, a company, or the economy: Take these periods and rethink basic assumptions — and innovate."
Doctoroff spoke at SOM on April 7 as part of the Leaders Forum lecture series. He argued that rather than being a time to retrench and wait for things to turn around, financial crises instead present a rare opportunity for the birth of new industries or new approaches to established ones. He used history to illustrate his point. Crashes have led to periods of dramatic innovation, whether the creation of the Eerie Canal after the 1827 crash, the expansion of railroads after the 1837 crash, or the commerce explosion that the infrastructure projects helped foster after the Great Depression. "You need something that changes people’s view of the future, something that spreads throughout the economy," he said. "Think about climate change and alternative energy and efficiency. We’re on the cusp. We just need a shove by the American government."