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Citibank Execs Look to GW Students for Advice
Teams of George Washington MBA students will present solutions to a real-life global banking problem in August.
July 23, 2012
George Washington MBA students in this summer’s Citibank Global Banking Practicum aren’t in a class per se—they could really think about it as a six-week job interview.
For the first time, the university is teaming up with the global bank to provide School of Business students with what Professor Scheherazade Rehman considers the equivalent of a medical residency for global business finance students. Split into small groups, the 30 GW students in the course will dig into a real-life problem that Citi and other global banks are facing and, in just a few weeks’ time, pitch their solutions to top Citi executives in New York and attend a two-hour networking event. Last week, a group of five Citi officials visited campus to meet students and debrief them on the bank’s operations and the problem they needed solved.
“This is a race to see who can solve this problem,” Dr. Rehman said. “And Citi is looking to see if there are any outstanding students in this class. During recruitment, they will come back looking for them.”
The students’ challenge concerns Citi’s global cash management. In 2009, during the financial crisis, the federal government provided unlimited emergency protection for bank deposits, and as a result banks received a large influx of cash from their clients. But regulatory changes over the next six months will lift that emergency protection and global banks will be required to hold more money in their reserves. Giant corporations are expected to withdraw their cash due to these regulatory changes. That leaves global banks like Citi strapped for cash. Students are tasked with finding a solution. What strategies can global banks deploy for their global cash management?
Leading up to the presentations on Aug. 10 (which Dr. Rehman and Citi officials will grade together), students will work in their small groups and look to Dr. Rehman for guidance. Citi has recruited a handful of GW students both last year and the year before that, Dr. Rehman said, so the opportunity for students who impress bank officials is real.
The class offers more than the shot at a job with Citi, however.
For Chris Watson, a second-year MBA student specializing in finance, the feedback the course will offer is also important.
“I want to know what I did well and what I didn’t do so well,” Mr. Watson said. “A lot of times in our career we never get that feedback unless you do an outstanding job or really screw something up. The feedback from the start to finish of this project is going to be the most valuable outside of the classroom.”
Jad Zakhour, another MBA student with a specialization in finance, echoed Mr. Watson.
“I hope to get involved at the ground level with a real global problem and recognize the attributes that top-level executives look for in making such large-scale decisions,” Mr. Zakhour said.