Gary Cohn (businessman)

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This article is about the business executive. For others, see Gary Cohn (disambiguation).
Gary D. Cohn
Gary D. Cohn President and Chief Operating Officer at Goldman Sachs.jpg
Gary D. Cohn
Born (1960-08-27) August 27, 1960 (age 54)
Nationality American
Education Gilmour Academy
Alma mater American University
Occupation President & COO at
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc (2006-)
Salary US$ 22 million (2014),[1]
US$ 15,803,900 (2011)[2]
Political party
Democratic[citation needed]
Religion Judaism[citation needed]
Spouse(s) Lisa Pevaroff Cohn

Gary D. Cohn (born August 27, 1960) is an American investment banker. He is currently the president and COO of investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs.

Personal life and business career[edit]

Gary Cohn, the son of Victor and Ellen Cohn,[3] grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. His father was an electrician who later became a real estate developer. Cohn studied at Gilmour Academy, and received his bachelor's degree from American University's Kogod School of Business.[4]

After graduating from American University, his first job was for U.S. Steel home products division in Cleveland.[5] After a few months, he left U.S. Steel and started his career as an options dealer in the New York Mercantile Exchange.[5]

Cohn was recruited by Goldman Sachs in 1990.[6] He was named head of the commodities department, part of Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Division (FICC) of the firm, in 1996; in September 2002, he was named head of the division. Since January 2004 Cohn was the co-head of global securities businesses and he was the co-head of Equities since 2003.[7] He was head of the global securities businesses from December 2003, and became President and Co-Chief Operating Officer, and director, in June 2006.[8]

Cohn hosted the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference which took place in San Francisco in February, 2015. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc, was on the program as a speaker, answering questions posed to him by Cohn.[9]

He and his wife live in New York City and are the parents of three daughters.[3][5]

Personality and work style[edit]

Critics of Cohn attribute to him an arrogant, aggressive, abrasive and risk-prone work style. They see his "6-foot 3-inch & 220 lbs" as intimidating, as he might "sometimes hike up one leg, plant his foot on a trader's desk, his thigh close to the employee's face and ask how markets were doing"[6] According to former Bear Stearns Asset Management CEO Richard Marin, Cohn's arrogance is at the root of the problem.

When you become arrogant, in a trading sense, you begin to think that everybody's a counterparty, not a customer, not a client.[6]

Cohn's supporters see these qualities as advantages. Michael Ovitz, co-founder and former chairman of Creative Artists Agency and former president of The Walt Disney Company, stated that he is impressed with Cohn. Ovitz said:

He’s a trader. He has that whole feel in his body and brain and fingertips.”[6]

Ovitz sees Cohn's toughness as a "positive” value, explaining that a high ranking executive can’t be “all peaches and cream.”[4][6]

Donna Redel, who was Chairman of the Board of the New York Mercantile Exchange when Cohn worked there as a silver trader, remembers Cohn as “firm,” “strategic” and “driven.” Martin Greenberg, her predecessor, said Cohn "was tough,” and added that “Gary got in with the right people, worked his ass off and used his head.”[6]

Charitable and public activities[edit]

Cohn and his wife are founding board members of the New York University Child Study Center. The couple funded the Pevaroff Cohn Professorship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine in 1999. He financed the Gary D. Cohn Endowed Research Professorship in Finance at American University, his alma mater, where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science in finance.[10]

In 2009, the Hillel building at Kent State University was named the Cohn Jewish Student Center in recognition of a gift from Cohn and his wife.[3] It is the first Hillel building built directly on the campus of a state university.[11]

Cohn has been a supporter of Harlem RBI since 2011. At that time Harlem RBI was given the chance to build their own charter school. Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees and Harlem RBI’s director Rich Berlin asked Cohn if he could help them raise the capital they needed to build the school.[12]

Harlem Children's Zone and Promise Academy

In December 2012 Cohn attended the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief which raised money for the Robin Hood Relief fund to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.[13]

Cohn is active as a trustee of his alma mater, American University, and of his school, Gilmour Academy.[14]

In 2010 the Hospital for Joint Diseases at NYU Langone Medical Center named Cohn the chairman of the HJD Advisory Board.[15]

On June 17, 2013 Cohn was honored at the annual “Bid for Kids” gala in order to raise funds for Harlem RBI and the DREAM charter school. Cohn said in an interview that Harlem RBI is a project that is “very near and dear to his heart.”[12]

Cohn is a member of the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.[16]

Cohn has contributed his opinions on finance and business in prestigious journals and newspapers. In March, 2014 he wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal discussing, “The Responsible Way to Rein in Super-Fast Trading."[17]

Involvement in the European debt due proposals in 2009[edit]

Goldman Sachs has fallen under intense scrutiny for creating or pitching products used by Greece to "obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels".[18] Cohn led a delegation from Goldman Sachs in late 2009 for meetings which included proposals – not adopted by the Greek government – to place debt-due dates far into the future, "much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards".[18]


  1. ^ Cohan, William D. (April 2015). "Wall Street Executives from the Financial Crisis of 2008: Where Are They Now?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  2. ^ Reuters: Goldman Sachs - Gary Cohn brief biography retrieved August 13, 2012
  3. ^ a b c Hillel at Kent State Dedicates New Cohn Jewish Student Center, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life site.
  4. ^ a b Max Abelson and Christine Harper (July 28, 2011). "Why Gary Cohn May Not Be Goldman's Next CEO". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c "Gary Cohn, Kogod School of Business Commencement Speaker" American University.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Max Abelson and Christine Harper (July 24, 2011). "Succeeding Blankfein at Goldman May Be Hurdle Too High for Cohn". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Gary Cohn". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Gary D. Cohn" Goldman Sachs.
  9. ^ Colt, Sam (10 February 2015). "Tim Cook talks about Apple's astonishing success". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ Kent State University News: "Dedication of the New Cohn Jewish Student Center" October 12, 2009
  12. ^ a b La Roche, Julia (17 June 2013). "What Goldman's COO Gary Cohn Is Doing About Our 'Unfair' World". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Gordon, Amanda (13 December 2012). "Springsteen, Gary Cohn, Clapton, Jagger, Joel: Scene". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  14. ^ Gary D. Cohn at
  15. ^ "2010 Hospital for Joint Diseases' Founders Gala Raises over $1.7 Million". NYU School of Medicine. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Goldman Sachs Group Inc-Bdr-Gary D Cohn". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Cohn, Gary (20 March 2014). "The Responsible Way to Rein in Super-Fast Trading". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Lousie Story; Landon Thomas, Jr. and Nelson D. Schwartz (February 13, 2010). "Wall St. Helped Greece to Mask Debt Fueling Europe's Crisis". The New York Times.