AMCHAM: Please share with us how you and your team became aware of the Covid medical crisis, and what were the initial first steps that the CITI took to protect the company, your employees and your customers?
Alberta Brusi: Since the beginning of the pandemic, the health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and the communities we serve have always been our top priority. We have always looked towards the Government to provide guidance and rules. We have combined the Luxembourg Government measures with measures we implemented across Citi worldwide, always implementing the strictest measure applicable. Our initial step was to ensure that all employees had the necessary technology to work from home for their health and safety and to ensure there were no service disruptions to our clients. We achieved and continue to succeed in these two objectives.
AMCHAM: How has business demand from your customers changed during the crisis period?
Many of our customers have accelerated digital projects that were already in the pipeline. So, part of the focus moved to supporting them in those projects, as they were crucial in order to get through the pandemic.
AMCHAM: Has there been disruption to communication flows and what actions have you had to take to ensure effective communications both internally and with customers?
Communication has been key, and the pandemic has put our crisis communication plans to the test. Our systems have continued to work without disruption even though everyone was working from home, hence putting a lot of stress on the remote environment. We also quickly created a secure environment with one of the online meeting platforms, allowing us to communicate easily and securely between colleagues, teams and with clients. And while these virtual meetings will never be able to replace in-person meetings we did manage to celebrate our 50th anniversary in Luxembourg, in the virtual presence of the Ambassador to the United States, had some fun events with colleagues and partner organizations and even organized a fundraiser for a Kriibskrank Kanner.
AMCHAM: How has the impact of Covid evolved over time and what adjustments have CITI had to make to protect the company, the employees and your customers?
As we’ve said from the very beginning, data not dates will guide our decisions. We know one approach won’t fit all, so we continue to make decisions on a regional approach and within each region based on the available local health data. We are not bringing more colleagues back than needed and are trying to be as flexible as possible to allow colleagues to work in an environment where they feel safe. In the office, strict sanitary protocols are in place and self-testing kits are available to all employees.
AMCHAM: As a company, have you been satisfied by the adequacy and timeliness of the actions taken by the various governmental entities with whom you are involved and were there some solutions imposed in some jurisdictions which you greatly appreciated or some that you considered ineffective?
We found the actions and communications of the governmental entities very adequate, clear, timely and helpful. In times like these you really need a government that is aligned, quick and decisive and I think we found that in Luxembourg.
AMCHAM: What challenges do you face now that the economy is recovering, and how is this “new normal” the same or different from the old normal?
I am not a fan of the term ‘new normal’ as I don’t quite understand what it implies. We continue to support our clients, our employees and the community in the current environment.
AMCHAM: How would you assess the current emotional and mental health of your employees and are there any steps you are taking to give additional support in this area?
We believe there are benefits of being back in the office, including easier collaboration, more learning and feedback. We recognize this is not an easy transition for many people, and we’ll be providing plenty of notice before the return date to ensure colleagues can prepare. Citi is committed to being flexible throughout this process.
As mentioned in our future of work outlook, we will continue to find ways to incorporate flexibility into the new work model in a way that benefits our firm and ourselves. After such a long time away from the office, we want to make sure our facilities are as safe and welcoming as possible, so we have clear return to office protocols.
AMCHAM: What have you learned, and how has your personal management style evolved as a result of this Covid experience?
This COVID experience has confirmed for me the importance of empathetic leadership in times of great uncertainty for people. Each person has had to manage different professional and personal challenges and fears during the pandemic. As a leader, you need to have that empathy and understanding as you make difficult decisions in uncertain times.
AMCHAM: What question would you have liked us to ask during this interview which we neglected to raise…. And how would you answer it?
Maybe what you have missed the most during these extraordinary times? Getting together with friends, family, colleagues and clients in person. The joy of having a face-to-face conversation, accompanied by a good meal. The freedom to travel to visit friends and family around the world.