Credit Suisse Employee Moonlights As Breakdancing National Champion


As a general rule, most people working on Wall Street (and working anywhere, really) try to avoid spending time with the HR professionals in their office. When face-time is required, it is usually because a) you need to watch an instructional video* on what is considered appropriate workplace behavior, and what is considered sexual harassment, as there have been complaints or b) you're getting fired. Just the sight of an HR staffer on one's floor will send shivers down the spine, which is why locking eyes with these people is to be avoided at all costs; god help the person who is asked to come have chat "in the conference room."

An exception to the rule of maintaining a safe distance between oneself and anyone hailing from HR is probably Credit Suisse's Michael Tshiyoyo, with whom a midday meeting will go something like this:

...from the bank's "Employee Magazine," via eFinancial:

Michael and his co-workers are engaged in collegial conversation. Suddenly he peels off his jacket, gets down on his knees and puts his hands on the ground. He digs his elbows into his stomach, lifts up his feet and begins to rotate with his body horizontal. At first he spins slowly but then quickly gains speed. Finally, he takes one hand off the floor so that all his weight is resting on one arm. He keeps turning faster and faster, while everyone watching almost gets dizzy. "Sometimes something just comes over me," says Michael, who works in employee relations for French-speaking Switzerland at Credit Suisse. "And I have to dance. It doesn't matter if I'm crossing the Golden Gate Bridge or walking down Hollywood Boulevard. Breaking has been my passion for 23 years now, and I can't imagine my life without it." ...

Of the five brothers, only Michael still breaks; his four brothers, including his twin, gave up on b-boying years ago. "At 32, I'm actually too old for such an extreme sport," says Michael, who goes by "Easyman" in breaking circles. "My joints are shot, and injuries are forcing me to take more time off than I used to – about three to four months per year. When my arms or shoulders are hurt, I stay in shape by running." So is it time to stop? No chance! "B-boying is too important to give up. It's my cure for stress and depression. Dancing keeps me balanced." Nevertheless, Michael has made concessions to age. He trains less intensively than he used to, once or twice a week for an hour. He regularly teaches courses at the breaking school that he co-founded two years ago. There are about 60 children and teens currently enrolled. He has also cut back on shows, but he still performs about 30 times a year with his crew, Les Enfants Perdus, and takes part in breaking competitions or battles. "I did the best in 2009 and 2010, when I won the world championships for the jackhammer," Michael relates. "Since then, battles have become less important to me. It's still important to keep in touch with others in the scene, and contribute to its culture of tolerance and collaboration. I compete against the international elite at least once a year. The main thing for me, however, is the enjoyment I get from dancing." His teaching is also important – not just at the breakdancing school, but also at the Ecole Lémania school, where he instructs classes in bookkeeping, law, and economics. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he'd become a teacher. But he already knew at age 15 that he wanted to work for a major bank after finishing his education. "Probably because I'm so excited about being Swiss," admits Michael, who comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and became a Swiss citizen in 2002. Laughing, he adds, "As the clichés go, a bank is about as Swiss as you can get."

For those unable to see Easyman's moves in the flesh:

Credit Suisse boasts an HR professional who can spin on one hand whilst removing his clothes [eFinancial]
Those Are The Breaks [Credit Suisse]
*Sorry, this not related to the actual story at all, but I'd completely forgotten about the "Harassment On The Trading Floor" series until now; if you didn't see it at the time: highly recommend.


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