Pandit’s move is good for Columbia Business School — he is an ’86 PhD graduate of the School, and is an active member of the School’s Board of Overseers. But the move also has much to say about business and leadership today.
The analytical Pandit, a former finance professor, is less a deal guy than an entrepreneur — fresh from the success of his own hedge fund Old Lane selling to Citi in 2007 — and a risk manager par excellence. Running a big financial institution today is principally about identifying and capturing emerging opportunities (the essence of entrepreneurship) and assessing and managing exposures to narrow market factors (the essence of risk management).
Pandit’s rise also sheds light on the two key leadership factors from business school onward. First, today’s business leaders must think globally and understand the forces of globalization. The Mumbai-born Pandit immersed himself in the analytical and international setting of Columbia Business School, and two decades later, he is running a business that generates about half of its profits outside the United States. Today’s young business leaders must think of the world as the source of investment opportunities.
The second factor is entrepreneurial agility — being a corporate leader is less likely the key to success than being open to opportunity. Pandit moved from president and chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Securities Group, to Old Lane, to Citi’s top job within 2 years. And today’s MBAs are likely to assume leadership positions after 5 to 10 years.