BTU#102 – Christopher Perkins: Marines to Managing Director at Citi

“I leveraged the skills that I learned in the Marine Corps, and literally I just started kicking in doors. When I got to New York I had to figure it out and I had to figure it out quickly. Again, it was all about establishing that network. I called people, I learned from them. And I started to whittle down exactly what I wanted to do… There are things that a veteran can control and things they can’t control. I couldn’t control my technical proficiency at the time because I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps. But – darn it – I could control how hard I could work. So I was the first one in in the morning, I was the last one to go at night, and I was studying like crazy.”
– Christopher Perkins

Christopher Perkins is the Managing Director and Global Head of OTC Clearing at Citi and founder of Citi’s Military Veterans Networks. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he earned a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He then served as an officer in the Marine Corps for over nine years. After the Marine Corps, Christopher worked at Lehman Brothers as their US Head of Derivatives Intermediation. He is also the co-founder of Veterans On Wall Street – an initiative dedicated to honoring former and currently military personnel by facilitating career and business opportunities in the financial services industry.

The top three reasons to listen to today’s show are:

  1. Senior finance – Christopher is very high up at one of the most respected financial institutions in the world, so if you’re at all interested in the Finance Industry, this is worth a listen
  2. Explanation – Christopher gives great advice on how a veteran can explain their background. He managed to land a senior position at Lehman brothers directly out of the military. He was the ONLY person to do so without an MBA – not only not having an MBA, but competing against valedictorians from top business schools. He did it by being an expert storyteller, and his advice for veterans is fantastic
  3. Financial Collapse – Christopher talks about what it was like on wall street during the financial collapse and how his military training paid off, keeping him calm and stable when the world around him seemed to be falling apart.

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Show Notes

  • 2:31 – Christopher’s background
  • 3:15 – How Christopher decided to leave the Marine Corps and how he approached this decision
  • 5:55 – How Christopher managed to directly from the Marine Corps to a very senior role at Lehman Brothers
  • 12:53 – How Christopher would explain his role as the US Head of Derivatives Intermediation at Lehman Brothers
  • 17:13 – How a call from Citi changed Christopher’s career
  • 18:15 – What life was like during a financial collapse, and how Christopher’s military training paid off. Also a look at how Christopher has given back through Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS) and Citi Salutes
  • 26:48 – The biggest advice Christopher would give to Veterans in finance or those considering a career in finance
  • 29:23 – Some common misconceptions and mistakes Christopher sees when it comes to veterans
  • 31:36 – Christopher’s thoughts on the MBA and how valuable it is within the world of finance
  • 34:35 – A few possible career paths to the role of Managing Director at a major company like Citi
  • 36:38 – What Christopher’s day-to-day life looks like as a Managing Director at Citi
  • 40:05 – Christopher’s recommended resources for those veterans considering a career in finance
  • 42:06 – A look at mistakes Christopher has made and what he learned from them
  • 44:09 – In what ways Christopher felt ahead of his civilian counterparts, and it what ways he felt behind
  • 46:30 – Christopher’s final words of wisdom