If You Ask Me: A Global Banker Reflects on Our Times
Wriston, Walter B.
Good Forward Planning
I'm curious about what in your career were the most valuable experiences and the type of training you had.
Well, we used to sit around when I first came to Citibank and argue about whether the president of General Motors should know how to change a tire. Where we came out was that it's better if he does.
I think one of the most valuable things I had going for me was that I came in at the right time. That's known as forward planning, or luck. In the banking business of the 1930s more than six thousand banks failed across the country. So nobody got hired from 1933 on. They were just beginning to rehabilitate in 1939, when along came the draft. Everybody got greetings, and we went away on a free trip in a brown suit. When we came back, it was 1946. So those of us who went into banking in '46 and '47 came into a vacuum. There were a lot of people sixty years old and a lot of people twenty-five and very few in between. That's what I mean by good forward planning.