How I Got There: Citi Senior Associate, Corporate Banking | Brian Carden (McDonough School of Business,’16)

Posted in Student & Alumni Stories

Brian Carden completed a major in Finance and Operations & Information Management (“OPIM”) at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in 2016. During this interview, Brian shares about his experiences at Citi working as a Senior Associate in Corporate Banking. Learn how Georgetown shaped his path, what led him to his current position, and more insights regarding Citi and the financial services industry.

What did you study in your time at Georgetown? And can you walk through the process of how you got to Citi in your current position?

At Georgetown, I studied Finance and Operations & Information Management (“OPIM”) in the business school. My introduction to Citi happened by near coincidence at a résumé workshop hosted by the MSB. Several firms were represented at the event and I happened to have had my résumé reviewed by a senior banker within the Corporate Bank (and fellow Hoya) who had a similar background to myself. He encouraged me to attend Citi’s events on campus and network with other bankers from the firm, all of which helped me eventually get a summer internship. I have been with the Corporate Bank (in various roles) ever since, currently covering companies in the Aviation, Logistics and Rail sectors.

What activities/extracurriculars at Georgetown did you find most valuable and why?

My homes at campus were in The Hoya (where I was General Manager) and the IRC (where I was Executive Director of NCSC XLII). Both of these experiences allowed me develop business skills in a real-world environment in the context of a broader hobby/interest. This also goes to show that you can pursue a career in finance without necessarily joining a “finance club.”

“To truly become a ‘trusted advisor’ to your clients you must understand both their company and industry at a deep level, which requires keeping on top of industry trends and asking the right questions. If you’re the type of person who likes to ask ‘why,’ this is the job for you.”

What does a typical day look like for you?

As a Corporate Banker, we are responsible for forming trusted advisor relationships with clients at their headquarters as well as key decision makers globally. Our goal is to provide innovative intellectual and financial capital to clients globally to help them understand opportunities as macroeconomic and strategic factors change. We also liaise with our underwriting and risk counterparties to ensure that credit extended is appropriate for the client profile and properly structured in-line with Citi’s capital and risk appetite. As Citi does not have endless capital, we are responsible for ensuring that capital is deployed in the appropriate places that support wins for our clients in alignment with Citi’s overall priorities. To do so, we partner with Citi’s Investment Bank, Capital Markets, Markets and Treasury & Trade Solutions divisions globally to develop creative solutions for our clients across the full spectrum of Citi’s comprehensive and diverse product platform.

To take a real example, towards the beginning of the pandemic, much of our work for our Aviation clients was to help them raise and sustain liquidity in a near-zero revenue environment. Now that we are solidly through the pandemic, most of our discussions have shifted to capital structure considerations in the context of the various capital raises over the past few years. Some of these pitches eventually become live deals, which requires a detailed credit analysis to convince internal stakeholders why we should allocate Citi’s resources and expose the bank to risk.

What surprised you most when you started working at Citi?

While I knew coming in that Citi was a global firm, I didn’t fully appreciate how global Citi is until I started. On any given day, you can interact with every continent on Earth (except Antarctica…for now). Citi wants to support our clients’ growth globally, and that requires close coordination with Citi’s various teams across the world. I have made friends in cities around the world because of Citi, which is certainly a welcome surprise.

What skills are most needed in your current role?

I would rank intellectual curiosity as #1. To truly become a “trusted advisor” to your clients you must understand both their company and industry at a deep level, which requires keeping on top of industry trends and asking the right questions. If you’re the type of person who likes to ask “why,” this is the job for you.

What is your advice to students interested in applying for a position at Citi?

Not only is networking critical to distinguish yourself from your peers in the recruiter’s eyes, but it will also help distinguish different groups and firms in your eyes. Corporate Banking vs Investment Banking? Markets vs Capital Markets? The best way to answer these questions is to ask! At the end of the day, both Citi and prospective analysts are looking for the right “fit,” so please come meet us at our events.

What are the best ways for students to learn more about the industry?

Besides attending networking events, make a habit of keeping up with the financial press (Wall Street Journal is the “gold standard”). Personally, I’m a big fan of podcasts like “Pivot” (featuring fellow Hoya Kara Swisher) that discuss trends in business, tech, and politics.

Interested in hearing more stories? Check out the rest of our How I Got There series.