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Why does authenticity matter for startup leaders aspiring to grow global profits

After managing risk at some of the world’s top investment banks for 30 years, I have one strong belief → Be yourself in the workplace.


In the early 2000s, I was in the room as one of the world’s largest banks sat on the brink of bankruptcy.

➡️ Would the bank exist next month?

➡️ The share price was dropping with the gravity of a cement block every five minutes.

➡️ Would the US government or any other bank in the world step in to bail us out?


We were in the room to figure out how to limit the damage. Mitigate RISK. My specialty.


Ultimately, the bank went bankrupt. There was no saving it.

📌The bank’s stock got delisted from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

📌The US government and other banks took over.

📌Shareholders were put on notice that the bankruptcy court would take it from here.


Through it all — The room believed the bank could still be saved.


But I wasn’t afraid to challenge this thinking because the riskmodels showed we needed to start thinking about minimizing losses. Things were too far gone.


Emotions were running high that we wouldn’t default.


I didn’t sugarcoat the situation. The credit data was plain and the only path forward was to work through the losses and communicate with shareholders the right way.


🎯The general thinking in the room was this would be contained to the bank itself. But I introduced precedence. Just a few months ago, I had confidence in the risk assessment that I had done on another bank acquiring a struggling competitor. This situation would, in fact, impact investors around the world.


When the bank went into bankruptcy, we were able to quickly toggle over to managing the losses because the math had already been done. When you are unapologetically yourself in high risk situations, here are the benefits I learned:


✅ You build trust and genuine relationships for the long-term. I developed a great relationship with a director at the company during this fallout. She loved that I challenged her, even though I was ‘the only’ at times. Four years later, she introduced me to a competing bank so I could work on postcrisis models.


✅ You learn to create win-win strategies for both sides. After this situation, I was building systems for a new bank entering the US market. I argued to harvest some of the legacy systems from the old bank, which would mean we didn’t have to start from scratch. This was a win for the old bank and saved the new bank time and money.


✅ Challenge old models and solutions, but back it up with data. The Executive Risk Director of the old bank really appreciated my out of the box thinking on the matter and remained a mentor for 10 years.


Is this easy?

No.

Is it worth it?

100%


In the end, all that matters is you stay unapologetically you, but be prepared to back it up.


➡️ When has been a time that you stay unapologetically you? What did you learn?





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