What Citi Seeks In An MBA Hire

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Forget tighter regulations and evolving technologies. These days, banks are facing a more existential threat. Many Millennials, weaned on sustainability and entrepreneurship, are turning away from big paychecks and high profile deals. They dismiss banking as “boring” and wonder if they could ever make a difference there.

And those sentiments still surprise Courtney Storz, Director of NAM Graduate Recruitment and Program Management at Citi. A twelve-year Citi veteran and Boston College alum, Storz sees banking as a driving force behind innovation, if not history. She clicks off game-changing endeavors that Citi has underwritten, including the Panama Canal, the Marshall Plan, and the Space Shuttle program. Sure, everyone wants to propose ideas and start businesses.  But it takes expertise, global capabilities, and hard capital to forge those dreams into reality. And that’s the role that Citi has excelled at since James Madison was president.

A PLACE WITH SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

In 2012, Citi celebrated its 200th anniversary. Originally chartered as the City Bank of New York, Citi was founded by Samuel Osgood, a Massachusetts Minuteman whose New York home served as George Washington’s first presidential mansion. Since then, Citi has grown into one of the “big banks.” Consider these numbers: It generates nearly $100 billion in revenue annually, holding assets worth nearly $2 trillion dollars. And Citi employs 250,000 people in 140 countries with 16,000 offices. In other words, Citi provides a platform for Millennials looking to make a real difference.

Underlying this success has been a team-driven culture that prizes courage, curiosity, and conscientiousness. In fact, Storz considers Citi’s employees to be its biggest advantage in the market. She describes the people she works with as “incredibly smart, motivated, engaged, collaborative, and fun.” And that has been a major draw for MBAs. “Often times,” Storz observes, “when folks do accept our offers after summer internships or for one of our programs, they tell us that they chose Citi for the people.”

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Citi has weathered war, economic downturns, and shifting demographics for a reason. They operate one of the largest banking portfolios. Think of Citi as having something for everyone, including consumer banking, institutional client services, and asset management. That frees MBAs to move around and gain expertise in a number of functions and industries. It also enables them to work on projects ranging from financing startup accelerators to low cost lunches for underprivileged children. “Often, people are just completely amazed at all the different things we can do here,” Storz notes. Its global reach is equally impressive. Citi was the first American bank to enter China over 110 years ago. And they have been the longest-running bank in Africa.” “Citi was in emerging markets long before anyone else,” Storz points out. “And that [enables] us to bring a unique and global expertise to any opportunity.”

It has also been an incubator, providing global expertise at the highest levels of government. Citi alum include: Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Nathan Sheets, and U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development Marissa Lago. And Citi is known to draw government talent as well, with Peter Orszag, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, now serving as the firm’s Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking.

Citi CEO Michael Corbat

Citi CEO Michael Corbat

INCREASING HIRING FOR 2015

With the stock market and consumer confidence surging, Citi intends to follow suit with MBA hiring. Storz shared with Poets&Quants that Citi hires “several hundred MBAs out of business school each year for our global programs,” adding that they “plan to increase hiring of both summer interns and full-time employees in 2015.” Storz also notes that Citi generally makes offers to 75%-80% of their intern class, with the former summer intern class being their greatest source of hiring. And Storz sees little change in this trajectory. “Directionally, we have incrementally increased our hires over the years.”

Recently, Poets&Quants sat down with Storz for learn what Citi looks for in MBA hires. How can students stand out in the recruiting process? What will help them excel in the early days on the job? And what differentiates Citi from other firms? Find out the answers in this exclusive inside look at Citi.

What do you look for in a resume and background that many candidates might not consider?

We are open to students with a very broad and diverse set of backgrounds. We look for students with a wide variety of experiences before they enter business school. We look for students who’ve demonstrated a track record of success; no matter what they’ve done in past, did they show progression in their previous roles and demonstrate leadership skills. Are they engaged in activities on campus like clubs that align with the roles that they’re seeking? For example, if they are looking to work in investment banking, they are often part of the finance club. When we hire people for our marketing organization within our consumer bank, we’ll often see people who have experience in marketing-type clubs. We do find that there are very specific clubs that fit with the opportunities that we have to offer.

What kinds of skills does Citi anticipate needing in the coming years that you may not possess enough of now? The industry is rapidly changing. And that is creating the need for a number of different skill sets. First, we have the need for people who have the ability to think strategically, who are creative and forward thinking. We have an increasing need for globally-minded hires, particularly since we are such a global bank. We need folks who are well-versed in technology, who have strong analytical and quantitative abilities. We want hires who understand the digital space, given the way technology has evolved in financial services. There are a whole host of things that we’re really going to be looking for in the future. And there are many ways MBAs can be part of those solutions.

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  • fanboy

    Columbia or Wharton MBA will get you there

  • David

    Thanks for sharing Terenthia, that’s outstanding!

  • Terenthia

    Bwanamia, yes they are. I’m a MBA grad from a top-25 school, and I’ve been working at Citi for 5 years. I’ve been promoted twice. I work in a highly sought-after field (credit risk), make lots of money, work with fantastic people, and have phenomenal work-life balance. (Try 22 vacation days, 6 personal, 10 holidays, and working from home 2 days a week!)

    Whatever image you have in your head of what Citi is like isn’t true.

  • AgreedBut

    Agreed generally, but i would say that most I know would also never automatically dismiss a unique Citi opportunity if presented. Citi is such a strong global financial player.

  • bwanamia

    I hate to be unkind, but nobody, whether at elite or less elite b-schools, covets employment with Citi.