When I grow up, I want to be . . .

by Rishi Piparaiya

One of my first tasks as a recruit in Citi’s Emerging Markets strategy team in New York in 2001 was to represent its international footprint. So I pasted an outline map of the world on PowerPoint and started shading each country where the bank was present. It was annoyingly painstaking, but when I finally stepped back to admire my handiwork, much of the world–nearly a hundred countries–had been shaded blue.

So two decades hence, now a former Citibanker, I read with dismay about Citi’s plans to exit consumer banking in yet another 13 countries. In India and many parts of the world, this will mark the end of a legacy built over decades of pride, innovation, and hard work.

I could wax eloquent about Citi but am instead sharing my farewell mail when I left the organisation in 2008. It hopefully captures the nostalgia, journeys, and emotions of most people who have had the privilege of working there.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on what Citi has meant to you. And to the teams in New York who might be staring at a world map, as I was twenty years ago–one can shade and un-shade all the countries one wants, but the Citi never sleeps. . . .

—–Original Message—–

From: Piparaiya, Rishi [GCG-AP_IND]

Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 1:13 PM

To: rishi_piparaiya@hotmail.com

Subject: When I grow up, I want to …

Date: The Early 80s

Location: Mumbai, India

When I grow up, I want to be a banker. There are lots of banks in the world, but I want to join the bestest bank in the whole wide world. My father says the world has a lot of countries. It should be in lots of countries – so anywhere I go, people will know my bank. He also says that there are many different jobs in a bank. So maybe I can work on different projects in different countries and many departments, so I that I know what I want to do. Only the bestest bank can make that happen.

I promise to work very hard. And to make good bank products. And I will have the support of an excellent frontline that will offer our products to our clients. And I will have a great team – who will work all the time to make ideas real. And I will have the support of hundreds of bankers who will quietly work in the background so we can get the credit.  Bankers in operations, in finance, training, internet, in QA and compliance, in all our departments. The bestest bank will have all that. And I hope and pray that I would have thanked them all enough.

And I will have great bosses and mentors. Who will give me responsibility. Who will give me freedom. And who will let me make mistakes. As long as I learn from them. And I will watch them in awe as they work in big cabins. And when I earn a big cabin, I will remember the history of those cabins. And hope I will do it proud. So that the history continues …

And we will have fun. And we will celebrate success. And deal proudly with challenge. And take some time out to laugh at ourselves. Because I think it’s probably better to be a fun banker than a boring banker.

And maybe someday, I will want to do something else. It will probably have to be in a non-bank. Because once you work in the bestest bank, there is nothing better left.

And I hope I will leave behind a strong business. And many awards for my business. And industry stature for my business. And happy, well-insured clients.

And as I pack up my memories and friendships, I will feel proud to have grown up at Citi. And once more, I will say Thank You ….

Warm regards,


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