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Roger Ferguson
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Exclusively available through WSB

Roger Ferguson

"In a crisis moment, showing some empathy gets people to follow you." 

President and Chief Executive Officer, TIAA (2008-2021)

Expertise In:

  • Leadership
  • Economic Forecast
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Global Economy and Trade
  • U.S. Fiscal Policy

Audience & Industry

  • Associations
  • Board Meetings and Executive Briefings
  • Corporations
  • Global Audiences
  • Lecture Series

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted financial security, health, and social justice—Roger leads the discussion on how organizations can minimize the financial scars of the pandemic and how financial well-being is changing for the future.

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA (2008-2021), the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields, and a Fortune 100 financial services organization.

Roger is the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. He represented the Federal Reserve on several international policy groups and served on key Federal Reserve System committees, including Payment System Oversight, Reserve Bank Operations, and Supervision and Regulation. As the only Governor in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, Roger led the Fed’s initial response to the terrorist attacks, taking actions that kept the U.S. financial system functioning while reassuring the global financial community that the U.S. economy would not be paralyzed.

Prior to joining TIAA in April 2008, he was head of financial services for Swiss Re, Chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corporation, and a member of the company’s executive committee. From 1984 to 1997, Roger was an Associate and Partner at McKinsey & Company. He began his career as an attorney at the New York City office of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

He is a member of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents and serves on the boards of Alphabet, Inc.; General Mills, Inc.; and International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. Roger is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and co-chairs its Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education. 

Roger serves on the boards of The Conference Board, the Institute for Advanced Study and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a fellow of the American Philosophical Society and a member of the Economic Club of New York, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Group of Thirty and the National Association for Business Economics.

Roger served on President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness as well as its predecessor, the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and he co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Long-Run Macro-Economic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population.

Roger holds a B.A., J.D., and a Ph.D. in economics, all from Harvard University.

Featured Videos

Roger Ferguson's Speech Topics

The Economy in a Post-Covid World, Leading in Crisis and Beyond

Roger Ferguson has long focused on financial well-being and security, most recently leading the 17,000 employees of financial services provider TIAA which manages $1.3 trillion in assets through a shift to remote work during a pandemic and the racial reckoning following George Floyd’s death. Roger led TIAA staying true to their values and came through these series of crises as a financially strong and stable company with ample capital. He embodies four specific traits that define a good leader: expertise, vision, perseverance, and empathy – and authentically captures audience’s attention explaining why these traits are necessary leading in uncertain and difficult times.

Previously as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly 10 years, Roger steered the country's economy through the massive financial aftershock of September 11. A brilliant economist, Roger Ferguson inspires organizations to understand the importance of the challenges in financial well-being, including retirement security, inclusion, equity, and empowerment. We have faced major challenges over the past year and half especially and Roger guides organizations to solutions and actionable change.

Roger discusses three crises we have seen – health, social justice and economic – all intertwined and what must be done to mitigate the damage navigating a post-Covid world.  Roger lays out three crucial steps for an actionable way forward: Recognition of the lessons we have learned and making sure we move from denial to acceptance of truth as it does exist. The second step is for companies to think how they can be part of the solution, what actions can be taken for short- immediate- and longer-term. And the third is for the government to determine to use its phenomenal resources to overcome challenges and to avoid the potential scarring to the economy and individuals.

Roger dives into motivating lessons of where necessary investments must be made in the future - in infrastructure, education, and making a greener economy. Roger passionately believes education is a great equalizer and increasing college completion rates would lead to a larger economy by a couple percentage points. Roger’s expertise extends to corporate governance matters with boards, financial policy issues around fintech, and challenges around inclusive capitalism. 

The Importance of Diversity to our Economy

Roger Ferguson, one of just five Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in 2021, leads organizations and audiences to a deeper understanding that closing the racial wealth gap is a net positive for the economy overall, not just the right thing to do. How is the discussion around race, equity, representation, and justice different than in the past? Roger optimistically sees organizations moving from talk to commitment and disclosing how they are progressing, annually updating where they stand achieving long-term goals. Roger expertly navigates a conversation of what it was like being the only black executive in boardrooms and the strategies he used to navigate ‘onlyness’ and actionable ways organizations and audiences can do the same and support representation across the corporate landscape.

The confluence of events the past year and a half have been shocking: A global pandemic where, in the U.S. alone, more than 500,000 lives have been lost, where the ZIP code where you reside can determine your educational and professional opportunities, the significant evidence of racial inequity and adding the shocking events of early January where democracy was in peril. In a year of unimaginable events converging we are now in a strong position with a significant sense of urgency that organizations and leadership must commit to actionable change, Roger inspires audiences and organizations through his expertise and experience in accomplishing lasting change.