Vikram Pandit, COO of Citigroup

David Enrich has gotten the first interview with Vikram Pandit since Citigroup announced that "substantially all" of the investor’s in Pandit’s Old Lane hedge fund had deserted it. The bad news is that either he didn’t ask about Old Lane, or else he did and Pandit managed to keep his answer out of the paper. The good news however is that Enrich isn’t pulling his punches in return for access:

Even executives who praise his cautious, deliberative approach express concern Mr. Pandit is taking too long to make decisions. He has earned high marks for quickly addressing the most pressing financial issues. Still, executives and investors alike complain that Mr. Pandit hasn’t articulated his vision for the company…

"At a time like this, you really want people marching shoulder-to-shoulder with you," says Sanford Weill, the former CEO who engineered the 1998 merger that created the Citigroup behemoth that Mr. Pandit is still wrestling with today…

Asked about his vision for the company, Mr. Pandit says first it needs to fix the little things. "Only after we get those foundations right do we earn the right to talk about vision," he says.

Pandit doesn’t think he has the right to talk about vision? Pandit has the obligation to talk about vision. That’s the CEO’s job. Right now he’s behaving much more like a COO than a CEO, and that needs to change. Clearly, Sandy Weill’s original vision for Citigroup is no longer workable, if it ever was, so Pandit needs to replace it with something else. So long as he tinkers with org charts rather than setting out a strategic roadmap, no one’s going to have any confidence that he knows what he’s doing or that he’s a remotely effective leader.

This entry was posted in banking. Bookmark the permalink.