James Wolfensohn (Image: AAP/Laura Friezer)

At a time when Australia is desperately trying to push one of our own to lead a world economic forum, it’s worth remembering James Wolfensohn, our most influential global financial figure.

His death this week at 86 is a good moment to recall the man who not only rose to the top of Wall Street at a time when few Australians made it there, but also became head of the World Bank, shaping international policy at a crucial time in history.

He was the bank's president from 1995 to 2005, after which he was made special envoy to Gaza.