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The Kids of Business Icons: Emma and Georgina Bloomberg


Emma and Georgina Bloomberg have avoided the party girl path forged by other heiresses.

The kids of the self-made billionaire Bloomberg LP founder, philanthropist, and Mayor of New York City -- whose humble beginnings included being raised by middle-class parents in suburban Boston and working his way through college with loans and a summer job as a parking lot attendant -- have a pretty tough act to follow. But that's exactly the daunting shadow and unimaginable privilege in which Michael Bloomberg's two daughters live.

Fortunately, Emma, 31, and Georgina Bloomberg, 27, managed to capitalize on their station as offspring of the eighth wealthiest person in the US and 23rd in the world -- with a net worth of $18 billion -- by going the productive-member-of-society route rather than that of the spoiled, party-girl heiress. Or worse, they could be taking a page out of their mayoral daughter predecessor's felonious playbook.

While both girls have achieved success in their own right, they're taking divergent paths from their father, and from one another. Both have inherited their dad's philanthropic streak (he's donated nearly $1 billion to charity over the past five years). Emma, the elder Bloomberg, currently serves as Senior Planning Officer for New York City's poverty-fighting Robin Hood Foundation. Georgina is a vocal champion of no-kill animal shelters and the founder of the Rider's Closet charity which donates gently used riding apparel and gear to needy equestrians (they apparently exist). In 2007, Georgina was ranked fourth on a Forbes list of Most Intriguing Billionaire Heiresses.

When her father was running for mayor, it appeared as though Emma had inherited his political aspirations. At the tender age of 22 the Princeton grad joined Michael Bloomberg's 2002 campaign for mayor -- even deferring graduate school to do so. Her dad put her to work editing his speeches and campaign literature, scheduling speakers, and organizing interviews for prospective administration officials. When he was elected, the divorced dad in lieu of a first lady, gave Emma the honor of holding the bible during the swearing-in ceremony.

Once her father was in office, Emma continued to work for the Bloomberg administration. To avoid the appearance of nepotism, she took an unpaid entry-level position as Mayoral Program Coordinator. The position was granted by waiver from the City's Conflict of Interest Board and allowed her to perform duties assisting Bloomberg's Senior Advisor Vincent La Padula. Known by colleagues as a hard worker who wasn't afraid to get her "fingernails dirty," Emma served the administration for nearly three years before earning an MPA and MBA from Harvard. In 2005, Emma married then-fellow graduate student Chris Frissora, a Research Analyst for Monarch Alternative Capital, and the couple live in Tribeca.

Georgina, the younger and more free-spirited Bloomberg, isn't trying to fill her father's business or political shoes but is instead trotting through life in a pair of riding boots as a professional equestrian. Now an accomplished woman, she didn't emerge from her younger years without her share of public growing pains. At age 20, Georgina famously kvetched in the 2003 HBO documentary Born Rich, "Having the last name Bloomberg sucks."

While the Bloomberg name didn't get her qualified as a show jumper in the 2008 Olympics -- only to be thwarted when her horse got injured -- it certainly allowed her the resources and time to compete. (A 20-acre Westchester County nine-horse farm and freedom from holding a day job don't come cheap.) Her name also most likely helped the professional athlete land a sports modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models.

But family and financial advantage only take you so far. It's talent that earns you the horsey trophy. And if winning team gold in 2002 at the North American Young Rider Championships, Individual gold in 2003, being part of the victorious 2005 Samsung Super League team in France, and showing at the 2005 World Cup Finals is any indication, Georgina's got horse loads. In August, she took the $30,000 Grand Prix Victory prize at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. Not a bad day's work.

Still, she'll have to start earning bigger paychecks on the professional show-jumping circuit to impress her father. "How you make a living doing that, I don't know," lamented Michael Bloomberg to New York magazine. Perhaps the upcoming $60,000-per-event award Hampton Classic and 2011 World Cup Finals will afford Georgina more suitable income-earning career opportunities. Also, sponsorships like Audi, Ariat International, Heritage Gloves, and County Saddlery should alleviate some of dad's concerns.

Self-possessed Georgina who has suffered a broken collarbone, wrist, and back isn't likely to let Mayor McLoaded's disappointment in her income-tax bracket break her riding spirit. As she recently told RL Magazine, published by Ralph Lauren (RL), "If I feel in my heart that what I'm doing is right, than that is what I have to keep doing."
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