Dan Doctoroff, ’84: Transforming Cities and Companies - and Now Perhaps the University

Appeared in Record issue: 
Fall 2011

Just a few months after terrorists brought down the World Trade Center towers, Dan Doctoroff, ’84, made a career transition, leaving his 14-year position as managing partner of the private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners to become New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding. After six momentous years as deputy mayor, he stepped down in early 2008—just as the global financial crisis began gathering steam—to take on the responsibilities of president of Bloomberg LP, the global business and financial information, analytics, and media company.

“At the City and at Bloomberg LP,” Doctoroff observes, “we were required to confront very severe dislocations— moments when we could either hunker down, retrench, and accept limitations, or we could seize an opportunity to move forward with the faith that something even better than what had been there before could be created out of the crisis.” Doctoroff chose the latter course, and his faith has been rewarded.

From his dollar-a-year cabinet post in New York, Doctoroff oversaw more than 40 agencies and more than 275 substantial projects and initiatives, all of which resulted in, among other things, the creation of about 130 million square feet of new commercial and residential space, three new sports arenas, a new subway line, 2,400 acres of parks, the regeneration of more than 60 miles of waterfront, and the inauguration of the most comprehensive and ambitious municipal affordable housing construction program in American history. Upon Doctoroff’s departure, New York’s mayor said, “His impact will be felt for decades to come. . . . At one dollar per year, for six years, the six dollars we have paid Dan makes his service to New York perhaps one of the greatest bargains for the city since the purchase of Manhattan for twenty-four dollars.”

During Doctoroff’s leadership tenure at Bloomberg LP, the company has started eight new businesses, bought two major business publications, increased its workforce by 34 percent, dramatically revised its internal policies, and reshuffled its executive leadership team. Doctoroff led the creation and implementation of the corporation’s guiding strategy, known as “Plan B,” which includes about 50 initiatives for making Bloomberg LP “a far more diverse and more competitive organization,” in Doctoroff’s words.

Doctoroff has served the Law School in many capacities, including two terms on the Visiting Committee and current service with Dean Schill’s Business Advisory Council. He credits a 1999 book of the dean’s, Housing and Community Development in New YorkCit y, with greatly assisting him in many of his New York City responsibilities and credits the dean himself with considerable  personal assistance during his term as deputy mayor. “I called on Dean Schill often for advice, and his advice was always on point,” Doctoroff recounts.

Doctoroff also recently became a University of Chicago trustee. He says, “I have been tremendously impressed with the leadership of both the Law School and the University, which occupy a unique place in the academic life of our country. The current chair of the board of trustees, Andrew Alper, was someone I worked closely with as deputy mayor: he ran the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and he did a  spectacular job of it. His father attended the Law School, and Andrew has a great passion for the University as a whole. I’m proud to have been invited to contribute in whatever way I can to this great institution.”

On August 1 of this year—the day that the US Congress rancorously agreed to raise the country’s debt ceiling and five days before Standard & Poor’s lowered America’s bond rating—Doctoroff took on the new title and responsibilities of Bloomberg LP’s CEO. At press time for this magazine, it was not possible to know for sure whether a new period of political and financial dislocation might be facing the United States or the world, but it seems assured that Dan Doctoroff will have what it takes to guide his firm through whatever may come next.