CitiMortgage CEO Sanjiv Das helps people keep their homes

In the fourth quarter, CitiMortgage says, among its customers facing potential foreclosure, Citi found a way to keep six of them in their homes for every one that was foreclosed upon.

"Our people are driven by the ability to find innovative solutions, as opposed to doing the same thing we do in good times," Das says. "Our mantra to people is very clear: It's about keeping people in their homes."

Others who know or who have worked with Das describe him as someone who has a knack for tough situations and ushering in change.

Trevor Harris, professor at Columbia Business School, worked with Das at Morgan Stanley when Harris was a managing director and vice chairman. Das had been managing director of Morgan Stanley's institutional securities group when he left last year to head CitiMortgage.

"He tries to understand the issue and problem and takes alot of different input," Harris says. "He identifies what he believes the right solution is (for a problem) and works hard to execute it. He tries to make everybody feel comfortable with the outcome."

It all harks back to a value system Das learned as a boy in Delhi. His father trained in the army, and it was from him that Das says he learned a sense of purpose and integrity in tough times. Raised in a family of three sons, Das says his upbringing instilled in him a belief in helping others, rather than in amassing material goods.

Now, with thousands of people working for him, Das says he tries to do as he was taught, such as by nurturing morale.

"You do that by integrity, and leadership is at the heart of my values," Das says. "The No. 1 thing I talk about are the customers. Each day, my business is to keep them in their homes, no matter what. That goes back to the values I was brought up with."

Das says he has always been fascinated by both the analytical and behavioral sides of business. He holds a bachelor's degree in math from the University of Delhi and an MBA in marketing and finance from the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad.

His day typically starts at 5 a.m. Once he's at work, he starts his routine every morning by meeting with other CitiMortgage executives to review the previous day's key performance measures. Other meetings often follow — with the CitiHoldings Management team or with staff to discuss new programs and ways to keep people current on their mortgages. He holds conference calls with teams implementing the new White House program to avert foreclosures, monitoring Citi's progress and resolving impediments.

"I remind my staff to stay focused on the help they can offer to alleviate financial pressure on those caught up in the economic turmoil," Das says in an e-mail.

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