Ken Cooper, Bloomberg’s Global Head of Human Resources, recalls the first time he met Mike Bloomberg and shares his insights on Mike’s approach to leadership and how it shaped the Bloomberg company culture.
When did you first meet Mike?
I met Mike more than 30 years ago on my first day working at Bloomberg. I didn’t realize he was the top guy when I first met him – but it didn’t take me long to figure out!
What makes Mike an effective leader?
Mike can see around corners: he saw the need for the Bloomberg Terminal before the market even saw a need for it. And 30 years ago – if I can share a quick anecdote – he even predicted to me that people would get rid of their telephone landlines as mobile technologies improved. In fact, Mike had a car phone and let me call my dad on it to let him know I didn’t need a ride home. True story.
That type of foresight is both inspirational and motivational for Bloomberg employees. His definition of leadership is to also show people that you care. Mike’s philosophy is to demonstrate to employees that we understand what they need, so they feel respected. And in turn, that helps us to attract great people to join the company.
Has Mike shaped the company culture?
The Bloomberg culture is completely derived from Mike. He values collaboration and transparency, and both are at the center of our company culture. Bloomberg is a place where there are no titles and no offices, and everyone has the same sized desk. We’ve invested a lot in our offices to make them empowering spaces in which our employees can enjoy coming to work.
Of course, we need some structure, but our workplace is open so ideas can flow freely. Mike has also shaped our culture into one that values innovation. We operate in an ever-changing market, so we must constantly grow and evolve to stay ahead. And to do so, we all work very hard.
How has Mike fostered a high performance culture?
Mike surrounds himself with smart people. He’s not threatened by people who are smarter than him. Rather, he leverages their talents and intelligence to advance the company as a whole.
How has Mike made working at Bloomberg satisfying for employees?
Mike gives employees an incredible amount of responsibility and the opportunity to work on some very important projects, often early on in their careers at Bloomberg. Our employees feel empowered when they complete these projects, because they realize how they’ve accomplished more than they ever believed they could.
He’s also a great manager who knows how to delegate. He holds his people accountable while giving them the authority to take ownership and get their job done.
Why is Mike inspiring to you and others at the company?
Mike’s commitment to philanthropy is really powerful. More than 80% of our company profits go to his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies. Knowing this gives our people a purpose beyond their own day-to-day actions. It shows them that the company cares about some of the causes that they care about.
What type of people does Bloomberg like to hire?
Bloomberg likes to hire people who are smart, hard-working and collaborative – and who have an interesting background. We like those who have faced adversity but persevered anyway.
Tell us about something that you learned from Mike.
Early in my Bloomberg career, I took a risk and I failed. Mike’s response really stuck with me: he was calm, and his primary concern was that I’d be afraid to take a risk again. I keep this in mind as a manager, because when we encourage employees to take risks, we have to react well if they fail. Reacting to our employees’ failure is as important a reaction – if not more important – as our response to their successes.
As a manager, I also delegate, share credit and give my teams the environment they need to flourish. These are all things I learned from Mike.
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Mike Bloomberg was recently named one of the top 2017 Glassdoor Highest Rated CEOs. See the full list here. Learn more about Mike Bloomberg’s perspectives on leadership in his interview on 60 Minutes.