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February 08, 2008

Congratulations Vikram Pandit, PhD ’86, Citi CEO

Glenn Hubbard
Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics
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In December, financial behemoth Citigroup named Vikram Pandit chief executive officer — a big job any time, but a particularly challenging one for the embattled firm, buffeted by credit woes.

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.

Congratulations, Vikram.

Comments

by Shuiyuan Luo | February 08, 2008 at 4:58 PM

Dear Dean Professor Hubbard, I am truly motivated by your comment and Mr. Pandit's achievement, which led me to apply for the MBA program at CBS. I truly believe that the future business leaders must have #1 global business experience, #2 entrepreneurship and #3 leadership. I can see that Mr. Pandit has all three elements to be a business leader. I look forward to being one of the kind of leader within 5 to 10 years! Best, --Shuiyuan

by Lou Riggio, MS 60, MBA 62 | February 09, 2008 at 5:53 PM

I've known and collaborated with Sandy Weill, a very insightful corporate leader. That's fine and I'm glad for Mr. Pandit. Still, when one looks at Citi's problems and top-level turnover, I sincerely hope he hasn't been placed on top of an "alçapão." (Portuguese; look it up.)

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