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Financial Wizard Raymond McGuire Trades Wall Street for Social Empowerment

Who’s Who in Black provides a national platform to recognize the achievements of some of the most distinguished Black business leaders, activists, policymakers, philanthropists, and influencers in the world today. Raymond McGuire, the Lazard firm president and former mayoral candidate for New York is one of those remarkable individuals whose story must be told. 

Recently McGuire took the stage at Bank of America Auditorium at the Shirley Massey Executive Conference Center at Morehouse College to share insights with students and guests in an open forum during the revered institution’s Founders week program, Reflections of Excellence.

McGuire, a 2024 recipient of Morehouse’s Candle in the Dark award, is the president of Lazard, one of the world’s preeminent financial advisory and asset management firms, with operations in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Prior to joining Lazard, McGuire enjoyed an impressive 13-year tenure – the longest in the history of Wall Street – as Citigroup’s Global Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, where he oversaw a global business with over $20 billion in annual revenue and he advised on transactions valued at $750 billion, including major deals like Time Warner/AT&T, Time Warner’s takeover defense and Wyeth’s sale to Pfizer. McGuire rose to become vice chairman of the company before departing in 2020 to pursue his public service interests and run for Mayor of New York City.

McGuire explained to aspiring Morehouse students that the four tenets he built his career on, continue to be mandates he lives by. “Four things got me to where I am, prayer, preparation, performance and paranoia,” he said to light laughter.

Raised by a single mother, he and his two brothers lived with their grandparents in Dayton, Ohio, where McGuire said his early years were fraught with the difficulties that come with life in urban areas of the rust belt. “I come from a town called Dayton, Ohio in the Midwest and lived deep in the neighborhood, right next to a paper factory. Sometimes that paper factory would emit fumes that were so topic that in order to breathe we had to open the refrigerator door.”

The successful business leader openly shared that leaving his hometown after an 11th grade teacher challenged the 4.0 student athlete to elevate his thinking and goals and test his talents against “the big boys and girls in the east,” where he would ultimately attend and graduate from Harvard College.

“I was able to get a scholarship to Dijon, France, the mustard capital of the world. But I wrote to the fellowship and said that after having conferred with all of my professors they think a year in Neice, [France] would be better for me. … and I eventually crossed over into Athens where I couldn’t get a hotel room because I was Black,” he recalled. After meeting and American in Athens who housed the adventurous traveler for a few days, McGuire went on to Cairo Egypt.

“When I got to Cairo I told them I was kin to Muhammad Ali, and as long as I didn’t say anything they didn’t know that I wasn’t Egyptian, so I got a warm welcome,” McGuire quipped.

After ending his travel in Jerusalem, McGuire returned to the states to earn an MBA and a JD from Harvard Business School and Law School, respectively, as well as an A.B. cum laude from Harvard College.

The budding financier explained that he got his foothold in the world of investment banking after attending a cocktail party at the Ritz Carlton and convincing a business titan to take him on as an intern. “I told him that in the heat of the battle it’s better to have me on your side than against you because somehow I’ll find a way to win. That started my career on Wall Street,” McGuire explained.

Known for his dedication to mentoring, McGuire has mentored hundreds of individuals and served on the advisory boards for leading business organizations, including the Council of Urban Professionals, Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, and Management Leadership Tomorrow.

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