How Did I Get Here?

Roger Ferguson Jr.

President and chief executive officer, TIAA-CREF
  • Education
  • Sidwell Friends School, Washington, D.C., class of 1969
  • Harvard University, class of 1973
  • Harvard Law School, class of 1979
  • Harvard University, class of 1981
  • Work Experience
  • 1981 - 84
    Attorney, Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • 1984 - 97
    Associate, director of research and information services, partner, McKinsey
  • 1997 - 99
    Member, Board of Governors, U.S. Federal Reserve
  • 1999 - 2006
    Vice chairman, Board of Governors, U.S. Federal Reserve
  • 2003 - 09
    Overseer, president, Board of Overseers, Harvard University
  • 2006 - 08
    Head of financial services, Swiss Re; chairman, Swiss Re America Holding
  • 2008 - Present
    President and CEO, TIAA-CREF
  • Life Lessons
  • “Careers are climbing walls, not ladders.”
  • “There’s no job too small to do well.”
  • “The one thing no one can ever take away from you is your knowledge.”
  • Ferguson at 3
    “My father was a cartographer for the U.S. Army. Though he didn’t have a lot of money, he was fascinated by banks and investments, so we spent a lot of time talking about that.”
  • “I studied economics, and cleaned bathrooms on dorm crew.”
  • “Because I was older, I was able to put the pressures of being a first-year lawyer into context.”
  • Being sworn in by Alan Greenspan to his second term as Federal Reserve vice chairman in 2003
  • “I was the only governor in Washington on 9/11, so I led the response: keeping the Fed open, providing ample liquidity to backstop the banks, and sending extraordinary amounts of cash to avoid having ATMs run out of money.”
  • With former TIAA-CREF CEO Herb Allison on Ferguson's first day in 2008
    “We provide financial security for folks in the not-for-profit sector and manage huge amounts of money—just shy of $900 billion.”
  • Harvard yearbook, 1973
    “I got my Ph.D. in economics. My mother taught me to stay in school as long as you can. She was a public school teacher.”
  • “Lyndon Johnson nominated the first black governor of the Fed, Andrew Brimmer, when I was 15. From then on, I was completely enamored.”
  • “I didn’t think it was appropriate to go from being a bank regulator to a banker. Reinsurance is the other big part of financial services.”
  • Giving the commencement speech at St. Lawrence University in 2013
  • “I have a very academic-y background for a CEO, which gives me empathy.”