The Gabelli Center for Global Security Analysis Hosts a Fireside Chat Featuring Wall Street Legends, Leon Cooperman and Mario Gabelli ‘65
Featured Events | Oct 10, 2023 | Gabelli School of Business
Focusing on Mr. Cooperman’s Recently Released Book, the Fascinating Discussion Also Highlighted the Pair’s Long Personal and Professional Relationship, and Mutual Commitment to Giving Back
On September 7, 2023, Leon Cooperman, founder of Omega Family Office and former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Company, and Mario Gabelli, GABELLI ’65, chair and chief investment officer of GAMCO Investors, Inc. and Gabelli Funds, took to the stage in the McNally Amphitheater on Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus to discuss Mr. Cooperman’s recently released memoir, “From the Bronx to Wall Street: My Fifty Years in Finance and Philanthropy.” The event was hosted by Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, Gabelli Center for Global Security Analysis in collaboration with the Museum of American Finance and the CFA Society of New York, and was part of the group’s “Financial Issues Forum” series of events and lectures.
Mr. Cooperman and Mr. Gabelli, who were both born and raised in the Bronx, recounted stories about the life experiences and professional choices that served to establish the bedrock of their success. They shared recollections from their early entrepreneurial spirit and their humble backgrounds to their first meeting at Columbia University Business School. It was here that they attended a class taught by Professor Roger Murray, who ignited their passion for investment research through his lectures on Graham & Dodd, and value investing.
“You learned the language of business and made friendships you’d have for the rest of your life,” Mr. Cooperman recalled of his business school experience. “Mario and I met at Columbia Business School, and we had the same broker,” he recounted. They also shared the same pay phone booth, to which they ran in between classes to place trades. It was an experience both men remembered fondly and neither will ever forget.
A very distinct New York flavor colored the discussion, with Mr. Gabelli recalling, that he “really got to know Lee” when there was a subway strike in New York in January 1966, and he volunteered to go from one part of the Bronx to the Riverdale section, “picking up and driving Lee and Art Samberg, another classmate to Columbia.” That bonding experience helped to establish and solidify the long-lasting friendship between them, which is still apparent today. While their career paths took different turns over the decades and were punctuated by many challenges, each remained successful because of their positive outlook, their ability to overcome obstacles, and their sense that setbacks were temporary and would ultimately make them stronger.
“All of us suffer setbacks,” Cooperman said, “What makes you successful is how you deal with the setbacks.” He also was able to provide examples of the values he acquired while growing up that have enabled him to make the most of his circumstances and the relationships and opportunities that have come his way. “I attribute my success to hard work, luck, and intuition—and working with good people,” he added.
For over a quarter of a century, Cooperman helped shepherd Goldman Sachs through a period of unprecedented growth before founding his own successful hedge fund, Omega Advisors. In 1977, Mr. Gabelli founded GAMCO Investors, a mutual fund and investment firm that has grown to manage billions of dollars in assets for thousands of clients. Both men have enjoyed tremendous professional success and are deeply committed to giving back through their philanthropic endeavors—particularly those related to education, which had a profound influence on their lives and career paths. Each sees their success as a way to empower others.
Mr. Cooperman and his wife, Toby, have subscribed to Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge” and have committed to giving away the entirety of their multi-billion-dollar fortune. Mr. Gabelli sees education as the “great leveler and the engine of America’s meritocracy.” He has made the largest gifts in the history of Fordham University to the Gabelli School of Business.
At the end of the discussion, Mr. Cooperman talked about his formula for leading a successful and meaningful life and having a great career. His advice was as direct and practical as his business sense: “Love what you do, and do what you love, and it won’t even feel like you’re working.”
Watch the Video Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnwBF2Hbfb4
Written by: Paola Curcio-Kleinman, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Fordham University Gabelli School of Business