When many of us hear the name Bloomberg, instantly images of the New York City mayor come to mind. The man who made New York City the safest big city in the nation, fighting terrorism for three terms after being elected just weeks after 9/11, and revitalizing neighborhoods from the South Bronx to Coney Island. However, that is just one slice of Michael Bloomberg’s career.
Since clutching his first briefcase on Wall Street in 1966, Bloomberg has been synonymous with business. And in 1981, he launched the startup that is known today as Bloomberg LP, a global finance, media and tech company. Now worth approximately $50 billion according to Forbes, the 75-year-old shows no signs of stopping when it comes to business, philanthropy and leadership. In fact, Bloomberg LP employees say he’s at his best.
Mike, as he prefers to be called, has just been named one of the 2017 Highest Rated CEOs according to employee reviews on Glassdoor. With a 95% CEO approval rating, Bloomberg has harnessed the power and passion of nearly 19,000 employees in 192 locations around the world. What’s his secret to success? An innovative (and politics-free) company culture, combined with some of the best opportunities that an organization can offer.
One former financial software engineer who recently left Bloomberg LP admitted missing the thriving culture and unique leadership. “Mike Bloomberg is awesome,” he or she wrote. “Bloomberg is an exciting place to work. The company culture is great. The pay is great. The benefits are great. The office is amazing. The technology is being rapidly updated. Some of the smartest people I know still work there. There is lots of talent in this company! Plenty of training opportunities. Generous vacation. Generous maternity leave. Diversity.”
A current service storage engineer in New York weighs in: “Company values are amazing and is a reflection of Mike’s values. The company is working hard to pivot as more automation is changing the finance industry.”
Reading enthused reviews got me thinking, how can one man oscillate so successfully between the public and private sectors, leaving substantial wins in his wake? I sought answers from his longtime colleague and friend, Ken Cooper, Global Head of Human Resources, Bloomberg LP.
Here’s what Cooper had to say about the man behind the milestones.
Glassdoor: When did you first meet Mike?
Ken Cooper: I met Mike more than 30 years ago on my first day working for 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!
Glassdoor: Why is Mike an effective leader?
Ken Cooper: Mike can see around corners: he saw the need for Bloomberg before the market saw the need for Bloomberg. And nearly 30 years ago, he even predicted to me that people would get rid of their telephone landlines as mobile technologies improved. That type of foresight is both inspirational and motivational for Bloomberg employees, especially those who work closely with Mike. 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
Glassdoor: Has he shaped the company culture?
Ken Cooper: 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.
Glassdoor: How has he fostered a high performance culture?
Ken Cooper: Mike surrounds himself with smart people. He’s not threatened by people who are smarter than him. Rather, he uses their intelligence to advance the company as a whole.
Glassdoor: How has having Mike at the helm made working for Bloomberg satisfying for employees?
Ken Cooper: 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.
Glassdoor: Why is Mike inspiring to you and others at the company?
Ken Cooper: 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.
Glassdoor: What type of people does Bloomberg look to hire?
Ken Cooper: 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.
Glassdoor: Tell us about something that you learned from Mike.
Ken Cooper: 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.