THE BUSINESSMAN WHO SAVES THE DAY FOR THE STUDENTS
Robert Frederick Smith:
Imagine the burden of the student loans and somebody paying it off for you! This was recently a dream becoming reality when a businessman from Denver, Colorado decided to pay off the student loans of 400 college seniors in Georgia. So, who is the man behind the scene?
Robert Frederick Smith is a businessman and investor who founded the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. He was born in 1962 in Denver to parents who were both teachers. His highly motivated personality started to shape up since early ages. As a child, he attended the March on Washington with his mother to listen to the speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. In high school, he applied for an internship that was intended for university students. Even though he wasn’t initially considered eligible, he didn’t give up until one of the successful candidates dropped out.
After studying chemical engineering at university, he worked at various companies such as Goodyear and Kraft General Foods. He went on to pursue an MBA at Columbia Business School. He worked at Goldman Sachs for 6 years in the department of technology investment banking, working as an advisor with Apple, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, eBay and Yahoo.
All of these previous experiences led him to found Vista Equity Partners in 2000. He became the chairman and chief executive as well. Smith took great care in employing people from all types of backgrounds so as to combat poverty and inequality. In less than 15 years, Vista went on to become a strong competitor against software companies like Microsoft and Oracle, with a special focus on enterprise software and data science. In addition, Smith became one of the top 200 wealthiest people in America according to the ranking by Forbes.
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As a philanthropist, he is also successful at distributing his wealth to the others in so many ways. For instance, he founded Fund II Foundation that invested in organizations that focus on conversation of wildlife and nature. He also works at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights which is a nonprofit human rights advocacy organization. Health – cancer care in particular – is an important subject to him. He donated 2.5 million dollars to facilitate research activity at Prostate Cancer Foundation as well as breast cancer amongst African women.
In the recent years, Smith has been rewarded many times due to his never-stopping work. These included the International Medical Corps Humanitarian of the Year Award, Ebony’s John H. Johnson Award and the Candle in Business and Philanthropy Award at Morehouse College. The last award ceremony was where he actually made an announcement saying that he will be paying off the student loans of about 400 students who are about to graduate.
It wasn’t even the first time that he provided financial assistance to educational institutions. 2 years before the event at Morehouse, he donated 50 million USD to Cornell – where he had previously studied chemical engineering – in order to support black female students from the engineering faculty. That same year, he also donated 20 million USD to the National Museum of African American History.
His enormous contribution to the education, arts and culture continues to restore faith in humanity among all of us.
Photo Credit: Robert Frederick Smith