Wall Street 50 keynote interview: Jim O’Donnell of Citi Group
Citi's global head of investor sales and relationship management speaks to Irish America magazine
Jim’s mother, Jeanne, also provided a model for hard work and perseverance. A nurse, she went back to school to earn her master’s in nursing when Jim was young, and then worked for years as an elementary school nurse, only retiring two years ago at 73.
“I respect my dad’s entrepreneurship and work ethic; my mom’s determination in going back to school,” he said. “From them, I only know one speed, which is if you’re going to do something, make sure you do it well.”
And that’s the speed at which O’Donnell has run for his entire career. Making his father proud, he passed the Series 7 with flying colors, missing only one out of 250 questions. Starting out at Merrill Lynch, he worked for Bob McCann, a past Wall Street 50 Keynote and current CEO of UBS Group Americas and Wealth Management Americas, an experience Jim described as “phenomenal.” When the opportunity arose for one of the Merrill Lynch corporate interns to help out with implementing a new CMA (Cash Management Accounts) program for the European market, O’Donnell volunteered and in January of 1984 he went to London for a few months. Instead of returning to New York and the internship program, he accepted a job in the London office’s European equities business as an equity sales trader, doing both US equities and international equities. There he worked under a man named Terry Hurley, who he described as “a big, tough Chicago Irishman. He was incredibly principled, all about doing your work, being honest and taking the time to learn the mechanics and keep a clear record.”
Jim recalled one pivotal moment when a colleague in another office asked him to buy 25,000 shares in a certain stock, but when the price moved $2 against him later that day, he maintained that he had told Jim to sell. “Here I am, this 22-year-old kid, so scared,” he said, “and Terry goes ‘let me see your sheets. So he flips through them and sees that I had a B written down next to the order, just like he taught me, and he says to the guy, ‘There’s no way you told him to sell.’ Terry backed me, and that showed me how incredibly important integrity and ethics are, but also how important it is to make sure you’re on your game.”
O’Donnell loved London, where he would end up spending the formative years of his career and early adulthood. “If you spend your 20s and early 30s in one city, it’s important. It became home,” he reflected. “My first few years there I couldn’t really afford it; I could just go to the pubs and eat meat pies and have a few pints. I played on a rugby team called the Stock Exchange Stags. But it’s such a great stepping-stone to all of Europe.”
Two months after arriving in London, he visited Ireland for the first time, which resulted in the first of many great stories. “I was an Irish American in London in 1984, and I thought to myself, there’s no way I can spend St. Patrick’s Day here. So I got on a plane, flew to Dublin and stayed in the Shelbourne,” he remembered. “The concierge sent me to O’Donoghue’s pub off of St. Stephen’s Green, and I was so excited to have my first Guinness in Ireland. So I sit down at the bar with my pint and there are a bunch of guys about my age and one of them says to me, ‘You think you can drink, you Americans, but we can drink you under the table.’ Back then I was a pretty big beer drinker, so I just said, ‘No, I really don’t think you can, but cheers, happy St. Patrick’s Day.’ And he goes ‘Are you challenging me?’” Fourteen pints later (thirteen to win, one in celebration), O’Donnell left the bar.
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A sibling can apply for an Irish passport. Any sibling of an Irish person meaning a sibling born outside of Ireland bonehead. One really does have toNelson Mandela was against IRA decommissioning its arms during 2000 talks
Eiriamach!! The IRA were fighting state terrorism and had massive support in the 70's and 80's and I am disappointed you take the side of unionism andBill O’Reilly slams Nelson Mandela as an unrepentant “communist”
Some make a lot over the fact that Mandela associated with communists while looking over the fact that he also associated with capitalists. He was a nNelson Mandela once considered a terrorist by many Irish political leaders
You're not capable of carrying out an adult debate especially when most of your dribbling's are based on false premises chucky babe