Sir James Wolfensohn is a legendary figure in global finance and his understanding of the global economy specifically emerging markets is unparalleled.
James was the ninth President of the World Bank Group (1995-2005). He was only the third President in the World Bank’s history to be reappointed for a second five-year term by the board of executive directors. As President of the World Bank, he travelled to more than 120 countries in order to pursue the challenges facing the World Bank in regard to poverty and environmental issues. He led successful initiatives on debt reduction, banking and finance, environmental sustainability, anti-corruption programs and AIDS prevention and treatment. He developed activities on religion and culture and decentralized offices overseas linked by the most modern telecommunications system in the international community. On May 31, 2005, at the end of his second term, he left office and assumed the post of Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement for the Quartet on the Middle East, a position he served until April 30, 2006. In this role, he helped coordinate Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and spearheaded reconstruction efforts as Palestinians assumed sovereignty over the area.
James Wolfensohn is currently Chairman of Wolfensohn & Company, LLC, a private investment firm and advisory that provides strategic consulting advice to governments and large corporations doing business in emerging market economies. He founded The Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. based think tank. The Center examines how development initiatives can be successfully implemented, managed and sustained in order to solve key development challenges at national, regional and global levels.
Before setting up his own company, James held a series of senior positions in finance. He was executive partner of Salomon Brothers in New York and head of its investment banking department. He was also executive deputy chairman and managing director of Schroders Ltd. in London, president of J. Henry Schroders Banking Corporation in New York and managing director of Darling & Co. of Australia and was Chairman of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton for 25 years ending in 2013.
Throughout his career, James Wolfensohn has also closely involved himself in a wide range of cultural and voluntary activities, especially in the performing arts. In 1970, he became involved in New York’s Carnegie Hall, first as a board member and later, from 1980 to 1991, as chairman of the board, during which time he led its successful effort to restore the landmark New York building. He is now chairman emeritus of Carnegie Hall. In 1990, he became chairman of the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. On January 1, 1996, he was elected chairman emeritus.
He has been President of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, director of the Business Council for Sustainable Development and served both as chairman of the Finance Committee and as director of the Rockefeller Foundation and of the Population Council and as a member of the board of Rockefeller University.
In May 1995 he was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. He has also been decorated by the Governments of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Japan, Germany, Georgia, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Pakistan and Russia.
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