A Night in the Garbage Bin
On November 25, 2008, Citigroup executive James Bardrick stepped off his plane at the Mumbai airport in India. Waves of humid air washed over the crowd of debarking passengers. Bardrick slowly made his way through customs. At the time, he was co-head of Citigroup's banking business for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
He was 46 years old. His keen intellect, easy way with people, and fierce client devotion had propelled him rapidly up the corporate ladder at one of the world's largest banks. Square-jawed, youthful, and fit, he was affable and persuasive.
During his nearly 25-year banking career, Bardrick had experienced just about every professional challenge you can imagine. But nothing could have prepared him for the horrific nightmare into which he was to descend in less than 24 hours.
The next day, November 26, Bardrick met the CEO of a long-standing client. They were going to spend three days together, traveling around India to examine ways to expand the CEO's business there. He had a good relationship with his client, although today it is much stronger.
This is what happened next.
“Hans and I are eating dinner with a local lawyer, Raj, at the Oberoi Hotel in downtown Mumbai,” James tells me. “Hans has been my client for several years. We've helped his company, a large multinational, in many areas. We lend them money, and we act as his lead investment banker for acquisitions and capital markets.
“As we sip our coffee, we are talking about ...