Photo of J. Ira Harris
...J. Ira Harris J.I. Harris & Associates Chairman
When Ira Harris
played stickball with friends in his
Bronx neighborhood, he
knew the boys who could hit the ball the farthest were the ones to be reckoned with.Ira
could hit it the length of three sewers." Hitting a stickball three sewers was really important where I grew up," says Harris
."I still call that my proudest achievement."
The competitive nature that made Harris
a leader in the streets of the Bronx catapulted him to national prominence in the fast-paced investment banking business.Armed with a degree from the University of Michigan
financial career selling mutual funds door to door in New York.Soon he joined Granbery Marache, predecessor of Blair and Company, as a retail securities salesman.He
began writing his
own research reports, and soon developed a strong following among leading corporate executives.
In 1964, Blair
sent him to Chicago to revive its faltering office there.The 26-year-old Harris
soon turned the Chicago office into a leading moneymaker.Within three years, he was hired by Salomon Brothers to build its investment banking presence in Chicago.He
created an aggressive outpost for them there, providing a full range of investment banking services.Through his
expertise in corporate mergers and acquisitions, Harris
brought major new clients to his
firm.Recognized as one of the nation's most creative merger experts, Harris
has closed some of the most important corporate deals in the past three decades.
One of the youngest recipients of the Horatio Alger Award, Harris
was just 39 and a general partner at Salomon Brothers
was so honored in 1977.In 1978, he was named a member of the executive committee at Salomon Brothers, and in 1981, when the firm merged with Phibro, he became an executive managing director and a member of the board of directors.In 1983, Harris resigned these management positions to devote himself full time to the investment banking business and continued with Salomon Brothers as a senior executive director.In 1988, he joined Lazard Freres & Company as a senior partner. Harris is a director of Manpower Inc., Caremark International Inc., and Brinker International, Inc.He is a life trustee of Northwestern University, a director of the Polk Brothers Charitable Foundation, a director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a member of the Kellogg Graduate School Advisory Board, a director of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, a life director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities in New York City, and a life trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry.He also serves as a director of the Big Shoulders Fund for the Chicago Parochial School System.
Hard work, ambition, and self-confidence all play a role in success, he