Robert King Steel Biography of Robert K. Steel

Robert "Bob" Steel was born in 1951, and grew up in Durham, North Carolina. In 1973, he graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in history and political science.

Mr. Steel moved to Chicago in 1976 to work in institutional sales at Goldman Sachs. He earned his M.B.A. from University of Chicago in 1984.

In 1987, Goldman Sachs sent him to work in its London office, where he spent seven years helping to privatize state-owned businesses in Europe. After his first year, Mr. Steel became partner and headed the European Equities Division. In 1994, he moved to New York City to co-lead the U.S. Equities Division.

Two years later, he was elected vice chairman of Goldman Sachs. He retired in 2004, assuming the role of advisory director.

Upon leaving Goldman Sachs, Mr. Steel became further involved in the non-profit sector. He co-founded SeaChange Capital Partners, which assists nonprofit organizations scale rapidly via a nationwide donor network. He also chaired The After-School Corporation, which is devoted to providing young Americans enriching activities through after-school programs.

In 2004, Mr. Steel began teaching at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. His teaching excellence helped increase student enrollment, for which he was awarded a bonus by the university president.

In 2005, the National Humanities Center, a private institute dedicated to the study of humanities, elected Bob Steel to its board of trustees. He also began serving as a non-executive director of Barclays Bank.

In 2005, Mr. Steel became chairman of Duke University’s board of trustees, after serving on the board for eleven years, five of which he was vice chairman.

In 2006, President George W. Bush asked Mr. Steel to serve his country as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of Treasury. For nearly two years, Bob Steel was chief advisor to the secretary on financial and economic matters. As Under Secretary, Mr. Steel tackled complex challenges in credit markets and the economy. He is credited with reviving the President’s Working Group, which was the core group then prepared to respond to the global economic crisis of 2008. He managed the Department’s Blueprint for Modernized Regulatory Structure, which recommended several of the reforms since pursued by the Obama administration. And he helped manage Department affairs day-to-day. When Secretary Geithner took office under President Obama, the Wall Street Journal noted that what the incoming Secretary needed was “the next Bob Steel.”

For his achievements at the Treasury Department, Mr. Steel was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest award given to any Treasury employee.

In 2008, he became president and CEO of Wachovia bank. During his tenure, Mr. Steel led Wachovia into a business-saving merger with Wells Fargo.

Bob Steel currently serves on the board of Wells Fargo, and he chairs the Aspen Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes value-based leadership. He also serves on the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Task Force on Financial Reform, which advises Congress on critical financial issues; and serves as director emeritus for The After-School Corporation.

Mr. Steel is a frequent television commentator, providing insight and analysis on economic and financial issues.

In his free time, Bob Steel enjoys golfing, skiing, hiking and spending time with his family, including his wife Gillian and their three daughters.

TV Appearances

Robert Steel with Eric Schatzker of Bloomberg News
VMS News

Robert Steel with Maria Bartiromo of CNBC
VMS News

Articles Authored by Robert Steel

We Must Defuse the Medicare Time Bomb Now
Harvard News

Books and Articles Referencing Robert Steel

Charles D. Ellis, The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs
(Penguin Press, 2009)

In Times of Crisis, Treasury's No. 2 Plays Crucial Role:
Go-to Guy Bridges Politics, Eases Tension

The Washington Post

Toiling at Treasury -- Geithner Assembling Staff
The Wall Street Journal Blog

Wall Streeter Converts to a Fan of Regulation
The New York Times

At Hearing, Pointed Questions About What Led to a Bailout
The New York Times

Board Leader Returns From Front Row at Banking Crisis
The Chronicle of Philanthropy's Philanthropy Careers

Steel's challenge: Save Wachovia
The Charlotte Observer

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