Citi CEO Vikram Pandit sent out a memo congratulating the troops on completing the second quarter last night; not successfully, per se, just in general. I'm paraphrasing but something like "It's June 30 and we're still here," which you have to admit is an accomplishment worth highlighting. He then went on note that while big C has "the right Strategy, Structure, and Talent," rather conveniently, "none of that matters." The only thing that matters, Count Vikula wrote, "is our Culture-- our heritage, our people," and preserving the legacy of Citi now, so that when this thing goes down (and see me about placing bets later), it'll be gone but not forgotten. To that end, Vik would like you to take a few hours or weeks to write down your favorite memories of Citi. Do you think fondly of the gazillions in writedowns C's taken in the last couple days? Or would you like to get more personal, and perhaps discuss the 40 lashings you received after getting caught napping at the desk, post new motto? No story is too meaningless. And while sharing it probably won't make Citi "the best company in the world," as Count Vikula jokes later in the memo, or even profitable, it will be a big waste of your time. And that's what this is all about, isn't it?
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 9:09 PM
To: All Citi Colleagues
Subject: Our Culture
As we approach the close of the second quarter I want to thank all of you for the remarkable efforts you've made helping our clients navigate our difficult markets. You should be very proud of how well you are competing to win client trust and business. Our business success record clearly shows this and, of course, these achievements only add to Citi's rich legacy of accomplishment -- a legacy that inspires us and challenges us to accomplish even more.
As I see it, we are all privileged to work for Citi. For 200 years, Citi has been the backbone of world commerce. Generations of clients have turned to us to help them succeed. As a result, we have an iconic brand recognized around the globe. Underneath all the financial challenges we face in these economic conditions, this is one of the world's greatest organizations with resources unique to our time. We have unparalleled businesses, talent, resources and brand. Today, you and I are the stewards of that brand. It is our responsibility not only to preserve and protect it, but to build on it. As part of the greatest turnaround story of our age, we have the opportunity to transform Citi into
something more than just the best financial institution in the world. We can make Citi the best company in the world, bar none. I believe this strongly, and I know from listening to many of you, that you believe it too.
You may have heard me say that to transform Citi and to excel we'll need to have the right Strategy, Structure, and Talent. We have these. Now it's time to address our fourth and most important element -- our Culture. Some say culture is not just the most important part; it is the only part that matters.
In the coming weeks I'm going to be discussing our culture with some of Citi's senior leaders. But I also want to hear from you. I'd like you to think about what aspects of Citi and our culture make you most proud -- our heritage, our people, the ways in which we help our clients succeed -- and then I want you to tell me your thoughts. Together we'll add our mark to Citi's storied history.
I look forward to hearing from you.