Citi CEO Vikram Pandit offers career advice to Olin Business School students

“A job is just the beginning of your education,” Vikram Pandit told students at the Olin Business School gathered for a wide-ranging question and answer session with the Citi CEO on the Washington University in St. Louis campus, Monday, Nov. 9, 2009.

Citi CEO Vikram Pandit (right) and Olin Business School professor Anjan Thakor discuss causes of the financial crisis with students.

Pandit offered his career advice and thoughts on the finance industry to an audience of more than 300 Olin students, faculty and alumni. Pandit advised students to figure out what they really like to do and to seek companies where they can continue to learn as they approach the job market. In answer to an MBA student’s question about post-financial crisis career prospects, the Citi CEO encouraged graduate students to look beyond hedge funds and traditional financial services jobs. He strongly encouraged students to learn how to run a business or obtain operations experience, in order to gain important skills for success.

The hour-long forum, moderated by Anjan Thakor, Olin senior associate dean and professor of finance, addressed topics from the financial crisis to the future of banking and microfinance. Pandit said that a lack of governance, oversight and regulation were, in part, to blame for the chain of events that led to last year’s financial crisis. The future of the banking industry, he predicted, will be shaped by new regulation and the role of central banks in the financial system.

Thakor noted that both students and business leaders could learn valuable lessons from the recent financial crisis. “It’s extremely important for our students -tomorrow’s business leaders – to have these kinds of candid conversations with CEOs like Vikram Pandit. It brings the real world challenges of running a global business into the classroom and provides our students with valuable insight into the day to day workings of top executives.” Thakor and Pandit were colleagues on the faculty of Indiana University’s finance department earlier in their careers.

Vikram Pandit’s visit to Olin Business School was one stop on a visit to St. Louis to meet with employees of the CitiMortgage division, headquartered in O’Fallon, Mo. In addition, Pandit met with local government officials and community groups that Citi partners with to provide foreclosure prevention assistance and tools to distressed homeowners.

Olin Business School welcomes prominent corporate leaders to the Washington University in St. Louis campus on a regular basis as part of its undergraduate and graduate programs which are dedicated to the mission of creating knowledge, inspiring individuals and transforming business.