Indian-origin Salim Ramji Makes History as First Externally Appointed CEO of Vanguard, a $9Trillion American AMC

Of the highest paid billionaire CEOs in USA for 2023, as reported by the Wall Street Journal in May 2024, India-born Nikesh Arora ranked second with his equity-heavy remuneration of US$ 151.43 million. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen, IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna, Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai, and Micron Tech’s Sanjay Malhotra are also among the highest paid CEOs in America. Though the newly appointed CEO Indian-origin Salim Ramji’s salary may not match theirs, he will be leading the $9 trillion asset manager, Vanguard.

Salim Ramji, Vanguard CEO Salim Ramji, Indian-origin CEOs

PC: LinkedIn

Vanguard, one of the world’s Big Three investment management firms managing, has recently passed the baton to its newly appointed CEO Salim Ramji, a former BlackRock veteran. Unlike Google, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe, FedEx, and Honeywell, the Pennsylvania-based asset management behemoth coronated an outsider as its CEO in its 50-year history, much to the surprise of the business world. Salim Ramji, who got silver hair in the industry over 25 years, will take over as CEO of Vanguard in July.

53-year-old Salim Ramji, who journeyed from his father’s grocery store in British Columbia to the C-suite of America, will take the helm from Tim Buckley, whose leadership drove the asset growth at Vanguard by 80%. Ramji also boasts an impressive track record of success in his previous organization, BlackRock, the world’s leading AMC dealing in investment and risk management solutions.  He joined BlackRock as its global head of corporate strategy in 2014 and went on to lead its US wealth advisory business during his illustrious tenure spanning 10 years.

He is indebted to his parents for everything, specifically the gift of education and financial security lessons. He grew up following his mother, who like most other Indian women in general used to manage household expenses and save money even if as little as $100 every month despite “a lot of ups and downs”. It shaped his understanding about the importance of financial discipline, savings, investment, and long-term planning, starting from an early age.

Other than this foundation for his career in global finance, his parents’ incomplete school education has been a constant drive for his pursuit of ‘American Dream’. Since they had to drop out of high school due to limited means, they were adamant about their son’s high education. Vanguard CEO Salim Ramji majored in economics and politics at the University of Toronto before earning an MA degree in law from Cambridge University. Hence, education and financial planning have had a great bearing on his rise to the C-suite of a leading American AMC.

Born in Canada, he would feel thrilled at the thought of becoming a hockey player. He joined a law school, as hockey did not happen to him. He started his career as a lawyer at Clifford Chance, an international law firm headquartered in London. However, he made it big as a senior partner at McKinsey & Company in New York in 1998. The journey he had started then has culminated in his new designation, CEO of Vanguard. He is now part of the growing cohort of Indian-origin CEOs driving the US economy.

Salim Ramji was serving as Global Head of iShares and Index investing, among key products in the portfolio of BlackRock, when he announced his resignation in Jan 2024. He rolled out and innovated low-cost investment products resulting in adding tens of millions of investors to the customer base. He also initiated a voting platform simplifying investors’ participation in shareholder meetings through proxy voting. With 25 years of experience in wealth management and investment advisory, he is often referred to as a ‘Chanakya’ in global finance.

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