Jaspal has worked at Citigroup for 11 years, starting as an IT programmer, and then progressing to running big cross-border IT projects for the bank.
Currently, he is managing the global program for the EMEA region: “The program is meant to standardize the consumer experience globally”, he explains, “in terms of how the consumer goes to a bank and transacts, and how the process goes behind the scene. My role is to make sure that every step of the process in the EMEA countries is standardized and aligned to global processes”.
“My daily routine includes discussions with in-country teams to try to understand their requirements that are based on geography and on the local regulatory requirements,” says the Mumbai native.
“I also have discussions with my partners, mainly people working in technology, products, and sales at Citigroup so that I can understand their needs as well. Finally, we try to come up with a more standardized procedure and a solution that fits for all these needs”.
Jaspal has recently embarked on the two-year Executive MBA program at Cass Business School. He expects that with an MBA he will gain insights about strategy in finance: “An MBA degree from a very well known institute will definitely help my understanding, as well as my position in the company. People recognize that an MBA is well equipped in terms of key knowledge”.
“Till now, my knowledge was based mainly on my work experience”, he continues. “I didn’t have a typical ‘book knowledge’”.
Jaspal, who feels the MBA is already helping him in his day-to-day job, started the program at Cass only three months ago and so far is taking mandatory classes, such as strategy, corporate finance, organizational behaviour, financial accounting, and qualitative methods.
Next year, he intends to take the financial electives, like acquisitions, hedge funds etc, where, thanks to his financial background, he will also be able to contribute to the discussions in class.
Jaspal doesn’t think an MBA is crucial to work in investment banking: “I would say it really depends on where you want to see yourself in banking and your career aspirations. MBA learning will definitely give you an edge over non-MBA individuals in terms of knowledge, awareness and perspective on various aspects of business.
“When you do a Masters, you focus on a particular stream, for example finance. This is different to an MBA that gives you flavours of various things...In this sense an MBA can give you more opportunity compared to a Master”.
For him, fresh MBA fresh graduates are suited best for analytical roles. Citigroup has ties with some of the best business schools in the world and offers plenty of opportunities for MBA graduates, including a global summer intern program for which people are recruited from almost every country in the world where Citigroup operates.
Jaspal has no doubts about what he likes about his job: “It’s the challenge it brings to me”, he says, “Because I work with so many countries, and each has its own problems, needs and requirements. The wide footprint of Citigroup gives you exposure to different business practises and diverse working cultures.
“My international exposure has taught me to respect and value diverse cultures and at the same time… greatly enhanced my skills to manage in a fast paced and dynamic global environment”.
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Inside View: Citigroup IT
Citigroup VP and Cass MBA Jaspal Negi on running the bank’s global IT program and how an MBA helps at Citi