Citigroup’s New CEO: Who is Michael Corbat?

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Michael CorbatOn the morning of October 16, Vikram Pandit stepped down as CEO of Citigroup (NYSE:C). Pandit leaves the company followed by praise for his leadership during and after the financial crisis. Michael Corbat, former CEO of Citigroup’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa business will step into the role. On his way out, Pandit says Corbat “is the right person to tackle the difficult challenges ahead.”

In Citigroup’s press release covering Pandit’s departure and Corbat’s assumption of the CEO position, chairman of the board Michael E. O’Neill provides some insight about the new leader of one of the world’s biggest banks.

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“Mike is a proven, hands-on leader who is known for his focus on enhancing productivity, holding people accountable and practicing sound risk management. He has consistently delivered impressive bottom-line results at many of our major global business units and has forged a strong track record of improving efficiency and mitigating risk while also optimizing the allocation of the Company’s capital.”

“Mike Corbat has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities and the ability to sharpen our focus on achieving strong, sustained operating performance,” says O’Neill.

Corbat was previously CEO of Citi’s Global Wealth Management Unit, and before that managing director and head of the Global Corporate Bank and Global Commercial Bank at Citigroup.

Harvard CrimsonCorbat has been at Citigroup and its predecessor companies since he graduated Harvard in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. An article published in The Harvard Crimson in 1982 about Corbat leads, “The ladies who serve and prepare the food at Currier House all have crushes on senior Mike Corbat.” He played offensive guard for the football team. The article continues, “Satisfaction comes to Corbat when he can contribute to a team effort. To him, everything revolves around the team.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that at a talk to Stanford University students, former CEO Pandit told students that the second-most important quality of a good leader is the ability to look after the team, coming after trust and integrity.

Corbat began his career out of college in the Fixed Income Sales Department at Saloman Brothers, a Citi legacy firm.

Corbat is becoming the boss of one of the world’s largest banks during a time of unrest for the industry. Well-known executives such as Barclays‘ (NYSE:BCS) former leader Bob Diamond have resigned surrounded by scandal.  JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) is undergoing some executive reshuffling, and together with Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), has been — and will continue to be — the target of litigation regarding the credit and mortgage crises. Citigroup itself has been the subject of federal and state investigation.

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