Bob Lieber
Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, New York City

What Keeps Bob Lieber Up at Night?

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He thinks our country needs a wake-up call a little bit about how we're positioning ourselves.

Bob Lieber

Bob Lieber is Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. In February 2007, Lieber was named President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and became Deputy Mayor in January 2008. Responsible for creating jobs and building capacity in the five boroughs, Lieber guides agencies including NYCEDC, Department of Small Business Services, Department of City Planning, Department of Finance, NYC & Company among others. He oversees job-creating area-wide redevelopment projects that include Willets Point, Lower Manhattan, Hudson Yards, 125th Street, Jamaica, and Coney Island. He also spearheads the effort to support a more vibrant and diverse City economy by growing varied sectors including tourism, media, bioscience, fashion, maritime support, film, and television. Lieber previously served as Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, where he was Global Head of Real Estate Investment Banking as well as a member of the Real Estate Private Equity business. In 1999, and again in 2003, Lieber was recognized by Institutional Investor Magazine for "Deal of The Year," and he was named "Financier of the Year" in 2005 by Commercial Property News. Lieber holds a BA from the University of Colorado and a Masters of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Vice Chairman of the Zell-Lurie Real Estate Center at the Wharton School, and Trustee of the Urban Land Institute.


Question: What keeps you up at night?

Bob Lieber:  I think that figuratively and literally it is trying to plan for the surprises.  As I mentioned, it's a tough job because there are so many competing things that are going on all the time.  And making sure we communicate, and making sure we plan, that we can make every kind of preparations possible that -- the other night when I literally got up in the middle of the night was because I knew I had five things that had percolated into my head while I was sleeping, and I said, I just need to make sure that this doesn't get away from me, so I wrote them down and then in the morning went back into city hall and talked to my colleagues and said, these are the things we need to focus on.  So I think those, in the literal sense, is what keeps me up at night.

I think the more figurative part of what keeps me up at night -- what I think the biggest risk to New York City is -- is that I think our country needs a wakeup call a little bit about how we're positioning.  For better or for worse, this is a global economy now.  It is a 24/7 market around the world, and it's much more relevant today how the United States fits in with what's going on in Asia, what's going on in Europe -- Eastern Europe, Western Europe -- what's going on in Africa.  So I think we need to be more mindful of how the United States presents itself.  And one example, I'd say, is that New York City is a city of immigrants.  There are over 130 different languages that are spoken in the borough of Queens.  I mean, that's unbelievable.  But the immigrant population and the opportunity for people to come to New York and to get the chance to start a business, to raise a family and raise their children with great prosperity is something that we can't lose.  And I think when you see the partisan politics that are going on right now in Washington, D.C. and even what's going on in Albany, it really threatens not just New York City, but it threatens our entire nation in terms of what we're trying to do.  So that's one of those things that it's harder for us to have a direct influence on, it's harder for us to have direct control about.  So those are some of the things that may figuratively keep you up at night, because what happens away from what you're doing can have a material impact on how the city is affected by it.

Recorded on November 20, 2009