George Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930 to a non-observant Jewish Family. When Soros was just 13 years old, Nazi’s began their occupation of Hungary and Jewish children were batter from attending school, instead being forced to report to the Jewish Council.
“The Jewish Council asked the little kids to hand out the deportation notices. I was told to go to the Jewish Council. And there I was given these small slips of paper…. It said report to the rabbi seminary at 9 am… And I was given this list of names. I took this piece of paper to my father. He instantly recognized it. This was a list of Hungarian Jewish lawyers. He said, “You deliver the slips of paper and tell the people that if they report they will be deported.” – George Soros to Michael Lewis
Soros went into hiding that very next day, posing as the godson of the Hungarian Minister of agriculture. He survived the 1945 battle of Budapest where Soviet and German forces fought house-to-house throughout the city.
In 1947 Soros emigrated to England and became a poverty stricken student attending the London School of economics. Soros was a student of the philosopher Karl Popper, worked two jobs as a railway porter and waiter, and he also tutored other students.
“Well, I had a variety of jobs and I ended up selling fancy goods on the seaside, souvenir shops, and I thought, that’s really not what I was cut out to do. So, I wrote to every managing director in every merchant bank in London, got just one or two replies, and eventually that’s how I got a job in a merchant bank.” Soros on how he became a financier.
It wasn’t quite that easy however, once Soros received his degree in 1951 and PhD in 1954, he found it very difficult to find work. Many of the merchant banks he wrote to either completely ignored his of humiliated him in interviews. Eventually however, he secured a position as a clerk at Singer & Friedlander where a colleague suggested he apply to his father’s brokerage house – F.M Mayer in New York.
Soros did and secured the position of arbitrage trader, moving to New York in 1956. From this point until 1963 working for several financial institutions, working his way up the career ladder until being made Vice President at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder. However, Soros was becoming disillusioned with his work and delved back into his studies of philosophy.
In 1966 he started his own fund and began investing and creating companies, starting his path on a truly successful career. In 1992, he bet against the British Pound, earning more than a billion dollars and truly cementing his status as one of the financial greats.
Soros is known not only for his financial acumen but also his philanthropic endeavours, funding causes including; helping black students to attend University during Apartheid, promoting non-violent democratic movements in post-soviet states, internet infrastructure programs, and the eradication of poverty in Africa being just a few examples.
Also take a look at Open Society Foundations, – established by George Soros to help countries make the transition from communism.