John L. Thornton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Lawson Thornton
Born (1954-01-02) January 2, 1954 (age 64)[1]
Alma materHarvard College (B.A.)
Oxford University (B.J., M.J.)
Yale University (M.A.)

John Lawson Thornton (born January 2, 1954) is a Professor and Director of the Global Leadership Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.[2] He is also Executive Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation[3] and Non-Executive Chairman of PineBridge Investments.[4] Thornton retired as President of Goldman Sachs in 2003.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Thornton is the son of John V. Thornton, a former vice chairman of the Consolidated Edison Company, and Edna Lawson Thornton, a lawyer.[6][7] He attended the Hotchkiss School, and would later serve as President of the school's Board of Trustees.[8]

Thornton received a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard College in 1976, a B.A/M.A. in jurisprudence from Oxford University in 1978, and an M.A. in Public and Private Management from the Yale School of Management in 1980.[9] He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Bank Street College of Education in 2003.[10] Thornton was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007[11] and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford University in 2009.[12]


Thornton joined Goldman Sachs in 1980 and became a partner at age 34.[13] In 1983, he founded and developed Goldman Sachs' European mergers and acquisitions business. He first began work in London in 1985, and served as co-CEO of Goldman Sachs International in London from 1995 to 1996. Thornton was Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia from 1996 to 1998, where he expanded the firm's regional franchise during the Asian financial crisis. He announced his retirement from Goldman Sachs in 2003 to take up an academic position in China, although he would remain an adviser on issues related to China. According to the New York Times, Thornton's decision to retire "was prompted by a recognition that Mr. Paulson, who is 56, plans to remain Goldman's leader for at least three to five more years, delaying Mr. Thornton's expected promotion."[14]

Thornton has served on the boards of many large public companies including China Unicom, HSBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Intel and News Corporation. He is currently Executive Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation,[15] a member of the board of Ford Motor Company[16] and also serves as Non-Executive Chairman of Pinebridge Investments.[17]

He is also Chairman of the Board of trustees of the Brookings Institution.

In 2007, Institutional Investor Magazine named John Thornton one of forty individuals who have had the greatest influence in shaping global financial markets over the past forty years.[18] He received the 2009 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Achievement Award,[19] which every year honors one past participant in collegiate tennis who has made unique contributions to society as well as achieving excellence in their careers.

Thornton appeared on the National Post's 2017 Power List of the most influential people shaping Canadian business. The newspaper noted Thornton has "overseen a massive overhaul at Toronto-based Barrick" following which the company "has shed billions of dollars of debt and generated excellent financial results."[20]

Interest in China[edit]

Thornton's interest in China stretches to the 1980s, where he helped build Goldman's presence in Asia. At the time of his retirement, Goldman had become the lead underwriter for major Chinese state-owned companies.[21]

In 2006, Thornton funded the establishment of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution.[22] In 2009, he also became a member of the International Advisory Council of the Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation.[23]

He supported the launch of the Schwarzman Scholarship in 2013, attending its launch at Tsinghua University,[24] and serving as an advisory board member.[25]

In 2008, he was awarded the Friendship Award of the People's Republic of China, the highest honor accorded to a non-Chinese citizen.[26] The Chinese government also named him as one of fifteen 'foreign experts' who have made the most significant contribution to China's development over the past three decades.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Thornton is married to Margaret Bradham Thornton. They have four children.[28]

In July 2017, it was reported that Thornton and his wife, Margaret Bradham Thornton, were sued by their neighbor for having engaged in a "campaign of harassment and bullying" that included barking dogs, calls to police, and "rude behavior".[29]


  1. ^ "NNDB Executive profile - John L. Thornton".
  2. ^ "School of Public Policy and Management,Tsinghua University". Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  3. ^ "Barrick Gold Corporation - Company - Management". Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  4. ^ "PineBridge Board of Directors - PineBridge Investments". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  5. ^ Gasparino, Charles; Craig, Susanne (March 25, 2003). "Goldman's John Thornton Quits, Clouding CEO Succession Picture". The Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ "John V. Thornton, 81, Con Ed Executive, Is Dead". The New York Times. June 20, 2005.
  7. ^ "Miss Thornton to Wed Joseph Downing". The New York Times. September 6, 1987.
  8. ^ "Reduce, Reuse, Rehab: Monahan Building, the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  9. ^ "John Thornton to Succeed James A. Johnson as Chairman of the Brookings Board". June 11, 2003.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Academy Announces 2007 Class of Fellows" (PDF). April 30, 2007.
  12. ^ "Members and staff of St John's College Oxford". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  13. ^ Thomas Jr., Landon; Kahn, Joseph (March 25, 2003). "Co-President At Goldman Announces His Retirement". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Thomas Jr., Landon; Kahn, Joseph (March 24, 2003). "Heir Apparent to Goldman's Chief Decides to Retire Instead". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Barrick Gold Corporation - About - Management". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  16. ^ "John L. Thornton - Ford Media Center". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  17. ^ "PineBridge Board of Directors - PineBridge Investments". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  18. ^ "The U.S.-China Policy Foundation". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  19. ^ "John Lawson Thornton to Receive 2009 ITA Achievement Award". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  20. ^ "Twenty-five of the biggest, buzziest and most influential movers and shakers in Canada and beyond". Financial Post. October 31, 2016.
  21. ^ Thomas Jr., Landon; Kahn, Joseph (March 25, 2003). "Co-President At Goldman Announces His Retirement". The New York Times.
  22. ^ "About the John L. Thornton China Center". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  23. ^ "China Investment Corporation > Executive Committee". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  24. ^ ""Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University" Launched". April 28, 2013.
  25. ^ "Schwarzman Scholars & Advisors". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  26. ^ "Professor John L. Thornton Honored Friendship Award". October 13, 2008.
  27. ^ Yinan, Zhao (January 22, 2014). "Premier hails work of foreign experts". China Daily USA.
  28. ^ Dargan, Michele (October 26, 2014). "Charleston native turns to roots, not reality, for first novel". Palm Beach Daily News.
  29. ^ Ostrowski, Jeff (July 26, 2017). "Barking dogs and bullying? Palm Beach mansion owner sues neighbor". Palm Beach Daily News.