No executive makes such an unprecedented move as Citi banker Nacho Gutierrez-Orrantia did, telling senior Citigroup dealmakers of his departure for Spanish energy distributor Naturgy as CEO, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
At 54 years old, this remarkable career move by one of global finance’s most acclaimed executives was an extraordinary move. Born into middle-class households in Argentina and Brazil before attending MIT for science studies and Harvard for his MBA studies; after leaving Citibank during its subprime mortgage crisis stewardship as its leader catapulted him to prominence.
Citigroup was nearly brought down in 2008 due to its heavy exposure to subprime mortgages held as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Lacking adequate oversight, Citi failed to account for the possibility that millions of mortgage holders might default. Further compounding matters were trading heads who worked closely together thereby jeopardizing risk management practices.
Reed was faced with restructuring and downsizing thousands of employees to remain viable; while also facing lawsuits from investors who lost money when CDOs went bad. At a press conference held by company leadership to announce this decision, it made headlines: Taking an unprecedented and groundbreaking $3 billion reserve against bad debts as an act of force; other banks would follow his lead; his action marked just the start of an uncertain journey ahead.
During its recovery, he directed its strategy division, overseeing sales of risky assets and cutting expenses. Later, he led its battered mortgage business and oversaw Citigroup’s Latin America operations.
Fraser boasts an impeccable Wall Street resume: she began as a Goldman Sachs analyst before spending 10 years at McKinsey before joining Citigroup in 2004. Fraser often downplays gender concerns when interviewed, insisting it doesn’t really matter as long as she does her job well.
She’s also introduced work-life balance initiatives uncommon on Wall Street, such as encouraging staff members to avoid scheduling calls outside traditional work hours and encouraging them to take vacations.
At the same time, she launched a multiyear plan to strengthen Citigroup and prepare it for the rapid changes of digital transformation. This included revamping infrastructure, striving for operational excellence and investing in culture.