At first glance, Leon D. Black seems like the ideal university donor, a poster boy for billionaire philanthropy. In 1990, he co-founded Apollo Global Management, a now colossal private equity firm. Black’s subsequent fortune allowed him to become a productive, charitable member of elite society, a patron of the arts both as Museum of Modern Art chairman and as a private collector best known for purchasing one of the four original versions of “The Scream” for just under $120 million at a Sotheby’s auction.
A successful alumnus of the Harvard Business School, Black has also become a prominent supporter of our university and its intellectual mission. He and his family foundation have pledged almost $20 million to Harvard and its various schools, including a $7.5 million contribution to create student fellowships for U.S. military members at the Kennedy School of Government where he (coincidentally enough) also serves as a member of the Leadership Council.
Zeynep opens up rather easily — in fact, she rushes through our interview offering mostly unprompted answers, taking only small breaks to relight her dying cigarette. She strikes me as casual in a distinctly Gen-Z way, using expletives out of frustration, and switching swiftly to dry, cynical humor. But for the occasional pause to check the English translation of a Turkish word, she would fit right into our campus.
McKinsey & Company is in the news, again. The consulting company — at times dubbed “McHarvard” for its reliance on our graduates — has found itself at the center of a controversy over its role in the ongoing opioid epidemic. The story is as depressing as one might expect, featuring top executives seeking to increase revenue in a Machiavellian, almost too-dark-to-be-true fashion, including by discussing the possibility of offering rebates to distributors for Oxycontin overdoses attributable to their sales, helping Purdue turn a profit despite the deaths.