Posts tagged Citibank

GREAT Speakers (Part II)

PB050107Rarely do I invite guest speakers to come to talk to my university classes whom I barely know or have never met. Usually they are people I am confident will deliver a good talk to my students because I have gotten to know them in the last several years I have been teaching in Kazakhstan.  Last night was that special exception when my masters class was treated to Australian dry humor with Russell Banham speaking about his journey from Australia to working at Deloitte in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  He had sage advice to deliver concerning his work experience but also about life values.

Russell began with a question about what happened in December of 1974, long before these Kazakh students had been born.  They guessed and guessed but all were wrong.  That was the date when Russell started working for Arthur Andersen accounting firm.  If the blow-up at Enron had not happened in 2002, which impacted Russell in Brisbane, Australia, he claimed he would probably still be working for Arthur Andersen as a life-long employee.  However, what is interesting with most competitive accounting firms is that mid-50s is the age of retirement from being a partner, but you can return as a mentor consultant for the same firm.  Russell’s dry humor went right over my graduate students’ heads when he admitted, “I’m 55…I know I don’t look it.”  To me, Russell looks like a happy, knowledgeable professor with distinguished, graying hair.

Kathy, his wife, was sitting in the back of the classroom with me and we both laughed.  I believe people with dry humor need others around them that “get it,” Kathy has gotten it over 27 years now.  To live in Kazakhstan for any length of time, you NEED a sense of humor.  What was funny was that Russell, in an e-mail exchange, had initially asked me what his wife had “volunteered” him for.  Never having met him, I didn’t know if this was a stern rebuke of my not letting him in on what I expected from him or if he was simply dashing off a quick note to me. E-mail messages sometimes have a strange way of getting things more complicated with even a simple inquiry.  So I rattled off in my e-mail back to Russell all the different speakers he might know and what the titles of their talks had been: Chevron – “Change Management,” Citibank – “Effective Management,” Nestle – “Values and Principles” but I added that our speaker from Nestle had brought bars of chocolate.

PB050106Naturally, the competitive Australian which Russell no doubt is, and not wanting his organization of Deloitte to be outdone, did one better than Nestle.  Russell brought Deloitte baseball hats as a gift for each of my students. Thanks Russell!!!

We’ve had some GREAT speakers in my English Speaking and Listening class and next week we will have our final speaker of the semester with Julia Connelly talking about her passion.

Leave a comment »

Effectual Dreaming about “Effective Management”


PA060563Last night for my masters class of “English Speaking and Listening” we had as our guest speaker, Daniel J. Connelly talk about “effective management.” He represented CITIbank. He has been with this same organization for 27 years, living in Atlanta, Georgia; Irving, California; Seoul, Korea; Indonesia, Russia and currently in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  I know his wife Julia Connelly, from AIWC (Almaty International Women’s Club)  She has made every move with Dan and sees it as a great adventure.


Dan shared about their organization’s pyramid with four tiers and how people at CITIbank can move to the next level up called “turns.”  From M.O.S. (managers of self) to M.O. (managing others) to M.O.M. (manager of managers) to finally the peak of the organization M.E (executive manager or Manager of the Enterprise). Dan admitted to a question posed by one of my more inquisitive students, that he was a M.E. in Kazakhstan.


Dan talked afterwards about Citibank’s goals or standards, just five of the 10.  These were enough to think about and some of what he said dovetailed with what Marielena from Chevron had spoken on earlier to my class concerning “Change Management.”  Dan claimed that in his organization people always want more information. Communication is BIG, especially when there are changes.


Second, employees expect and want more feedback about their performance (positive or negative) Thus, they can improve if they are found lacking by the time their performance review comes up.  Third, managers should be able to explain how they rank an employee (there should be enough documentation to show why someone received a rank of 1 or 2 rather than a 3 or 4).  Fourth, a manager must have the ability to make tough decisions; finally the fifth, need an understanding of a bigger picture at any level.


Hearing these goals or standards at Citibank made me wonder: how does one come in from the outside as a manager to fix a department that is broken?  I’m not a manager and am happy to stay at the lower tier level of teaching. I suppose there are certain skill sets that people have to move up to the next rung in order to be EFFECTIVE!!!  I’d like to see more of those goals or standards implemented in my own insulated department where I work.  I can effectively dream, can’t I?


Finally, the best thing Dan said in answer to a question about his background was that his undergrad was in English Literature.  He is a reader and analyzed things early on in his career of finance which lent itself well to his first jobs and even now.  My KZ students need to know that reading is the key in order to become better writers.  I want both for them.  But that takes hard work. Some of these masters students need to work hard as well. I caught some cheating last week when they took their midterm on our four prior speakers.  Very enlightening to find out that perhaps over half the MA students were from outside our western university culture.  This place tries to drill it into their students by the fourth year that cheating and plagiarism is verbotten.


I’ll be giving the mid-term exams back to my students tomorrow along with a little pep talk before mid-term break about working on their papers.  I really want them to find out how important it is to read academic journal articles.  You have to have substance in order to be able to have a good final product.


I think my masters students appreciated yet another GREAT speaker who was candid enough about his background and experiences and willing to share his valuable time with us.  Maladetz! Dan! Thank you!!!

Comments (1) »