Qualified professional engineer, former professor, deeply religious, BS-MS-MBA-PhD, CEO Of Citigroup, Vikram Pandit

18 09 2008

Vikram Pandit is CEO of Citigroup, the world’s largest bank, and employs 358,000 people around the world in 100 countries. He was formerly President and COO at Morgan Stanley from 2000 to 2005. He is a former board member of the NASDAQ.

Vikram was born in India to a moderately affluent family. He moved to the US to attend Columbia University where he received a BS (electrical engineering), MS (electrical engineering), MBA, and Ph.D. in finance. Vikram is also a trustee at Columbia University.

After obtaining his multiple degrees in succession, Vikram became a professor at Indiana University Bloomington before joining Morgan Stanley’s institutional securities division. He was responsible for building their prime brokerage services. Afterward, he started his own hedge fund called “Old Lane,” which was later purchased by Citigroup, at which point Vikram was offered a job. When he was appointed to CEO, his father was quoted as saying,

He was a brilliant boy. In school, he always stood first in his class. He is very astute and focused. I saw him rise. Vikram has stood to my expectations.

Got to love ’em Asian parents!

Vikram’s dad goes on to note,

His citizenship is American. But childhood impacts are very Indian. He was brought up in a very traditional Maharashtrian manner. He speaks Marathi always. And Gujarati, English, Hindi […] He is a very simple person at heart.

Vikram is deeply religious and visits the shrine of Gajanan Maharaj during his annual visits to India. (Gajanan is regarded by some Hindus as a saint.) There is a room bearing Vikram’s name in the shrine’s lodges. In New York, he is known to go to the Ganesh temple in Flushing.

He and his wife Swati live with their two children in an $18m apartment at Central Park West and 81st Street. (Not outrageous given his status; fun fact–Jerry Seinfeld also lives in the same building.)

He insists on avoiding excesses, never having been golfing, not engaging in conspicuous consumption of art or wine, and prefers reading a books on topics like Stephen Hawking’s Big Bang theory or Tarla Dalal’s cooking book. Vikram Pandit is also know to enjoy photography–picking a particular theme, like vendors on the roadside, and concentrates on cobblers and vegetable man. He did some photography on windows and noting that, “the type of window signifies the culture of the country.”

Earlier this year in March, Vikram went to inspect his far-flung empire: traveling to branch offices in London, Mexico City, Warsaw, Istanbul, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Seoul.

He has talked about re-orienting the company to focus on customer needs.





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