Finance services industry leader and public servant Herb Allison will be the alumni speaker at the June 11, 2011 graduation ceremony of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In recent years Allison's career has been devoted to solving some of the most difficult problems affecting finance and the U.S. economy. As the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability and Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury, Allison supervised the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) until stepping down last September. The former chairman, president, and CEO of pension fund TIAA-CREF, Allison also served for 28 years as a leader at multiple levels of management at Merrill Lynch, rising to President, COO, and board director.
"Herb was among a select list of leaders students wanted to hear from this year," said Garth Saloner, Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. "At this time of tremendous uncertainty and instability in the world, Herb's recognized contributions to both the corporate world and the community serve as inspiration for the kind of principled leader our students want to become. On graduation day, Herb's personal journey and character stand as an example of the GSB's call to change lives, change organizations, change the world."
Before earning his MBA at Stanford in 1971, Allison served four years as a naval officer, including a year in Vietnam. After business school, Allison began his financial services career as an associate at Merrill Lynch where he helped start the company's first investment banking office in Europe, eventually going to Iran to help start the firm's first business in a domestic capital market outside the United States. He stepped down in 1999, served as National Finance Chairman for John McCain's 2000 Presidential campaign and then became president and CEO of the Alliance for Lifelong Learning, Inc., a joint venture of Oxford, Stanford, and Yale universities.
From 2002 to 2008 Allison headed TIAA-CREF where he oversaw a massive restructuring program. He took the reins at Fannie Mae in September 2008 when the organization was placed into conservatorship during the mortgage crisis. He was appointed to the U.S. Treasury position in 2009 to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion fund to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions in order to strengthen the financial sector of the economy.
In recognition of a four-decade career of visionary service, Allison was honored with the GSB's Excellence in Leadership Award in 2005. In addition to the GSB's Advisory Council, which he chaired from 1999 to 2001, he has served on a number of boards and advisory committees, including Time Warner, the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and the Yale School of Management. Working alongside Kien Pham, MBA '85, who escaped by boat from his native Vietnam at age 19, Allison was founding chairman of the Vietnam Education Foundation, a federal agency that provides scholarships to Vietnamese college graduates so they can obtain advanced degrees in the United States. Allison obtained a BA in philosophy from Yale in 1965. His awards include the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat 'V,'; and U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award.
Allison will be the GSB's second graduation alumni speaker. Inaugurating the alumni speaker program last year was entrepreneur, movie producer, and philanthropist Jeff Skoll.