The investment banker and philanthropist gave an inspirational lecture as part of the Roscoe series delivered in partnership with the PH Holt Foundation.
Vice-Chairman and Senior Managing Director of Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms, Studzinski talked about beginning his philanthropic life at the age of 6 serving soup in a homeless shelter, having been lucky enough to have inherited his mother’s empathy genes.
“To fix a problem, you have to look at what makes you angry” he said, noting that the things which make him angry are seeing homeless people on the streets, youth unemployment, the distortion of wealth and the discrepancy between the rich and poor. He went on to talk about the younger generation, the Millennials, and the importance in their becoming activists so they can harness their anger in a positive way, channelling it into a movement which will bring about positive change.
He talked about the power of technology in advancing activism, the importance in nurturing human dignity, as well as his charitable foundation Genesis, and his extensive charitable work in the Arts. Among the illustrious institutions he works with are the Royal Opera House, the Royal College of Art, the Royal Court Theatre, the Prince’s Trust and the Tate to name a few.
Born in Massachusetts in America to Polish parents, Studzinski originally joined Morgan Stanley in New York in 1980, spending much of his career in London, serving as Head of European Investment Banking and Deputy Chairman of Morgan Stanley International before moving to HSBC in 2003. He was voted Banker of the Year in 2007 by the Bank of England.
He received the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy in November 2014 at St James’s Palace, which compliments the Ambassador Award he received in 2000 which recognised his work with the homeless.
Described by a journalist once as “the mixture of God, power and money personified”, his strong religious faith provided the foundation from which most of his good work has been delivered. “The sense of generosity of spirit and sharing that I’ve held on to has allowed me to embrace the philanthropic experience” he said. “Until you empty your own cup, you cannot receive from others. My advice is to pick your passion, identify your issue and with conviction you can make a big difference in your life and that of others.”
Lord Alton of Liverpool, Director of LJMU’s Foundation for Citizenship said: “Throughout the whole of his hugely successful business career John Studzinski has promoted charitable endeavour. But he doesn’t argue that you have to be wealthy or successful before contributing to the common life.
“He says we all have gifts which we should put at the service of others – and that, when we do, it changes us, as well as society, for the better.”
The latest Roscoe lecture is delivered in partnership with the PH Holt Foundation, an independent grant-maker working to create a better future for the people of Merseyside.
Paige Earlam DL, Chair of PH Holt Foundation said: “The Roscoe lectures provide a platform for insight, inspiration and what it means to be a ‘good citizen’ in today’s changing society. PH Holt Foundation is proud to support the Roscoe Foundation for Citizenship and join other advocates equally inspired to make a difference and create a better future for communities across Merseyside”.
The full lecture can be heard here.
In photo: John Studzinski CBE (Centre) along with LJMU Vice Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill, Rt Hon Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool and postgraduate student award winners Faisal Ashraf (far left) and Rebecca Hebden (second from right).