Yes, Vikram Pandit Is a Robot

Yesterday, going on the strength of a WSJ op-ed, I wondered whether Vikram Pandit was actually a robot. Turns out that yes, he is. Bess Levin has an email he’s sent out to every single Citi employee:

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.

The really scary thing is that Pandit is clearly such an autocrat that absolutely no one in his office felt comfortable telling him, before this was sent out, how utterly vapid it sounds, and that hundreds of thousands of employees would be spit-taking coffee all over their keyboards this morning.

Pandit also has what might be diagnosed as unrealistic expectations:

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.

Tell you what, Vikram. Why don’t you start by trying to make Citi the best company in its own building. Then you can move on maybe to the entire city block. By the time you’re replaced, you could even be the best company in a one-block radius! Actually, never mind that: it’s not going to happen, considering that across the street is the Seagram Building.

More generally, don’t set goals you have no hope of meeting. They only serve to demoralize. As do idiotic rah-rah emails featuring capitalization nearly as bizarre as that of Citi’s SIVs.

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1 Response to Yes, Vikram Pandit Is a Robot

  1. RHW says:

    I’m not sure why this comment is so startling. This is a typical example of corporate management scripts that are big on vision but low in substance. I’ve seen many examples of corporate letterhead prioritizing ‘culture’ over cost-cutting, raising salaries for the rank and file, or tightening logistics.

    Such lines are apparently very valuable, given your typical exec salary. It apparently takes an MBA to recite them.

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