In the world of banking, Bob Diamond ’73 is a big deal.
The president of London-based Barclays Group, Diamond, 56, is the architect of an investment and management strategy and philosophy that has produced record profits (more than $4 billion last year) for Barclays’ investment banking arm, which, as its chief executive, he has turned into one of the industry’s hottest.
In past months, Diamond has been a point man in Barclays’ takeover bid for ABN Amro, the Dutch bank. The bid on the table was worth more than $90 billion, and would create the world’s fifth-largest bank, combining two already vast global financial networks.
Beyond the world of finance, Bob Diamond may not be a household name in the United States. But he’s a go-to guy for the UK media. Most recently his comments on the downturn in the markets stemming from sub-prime mortgage failures went worldwide on the news wires.
Yes, Bob Diamond is a very big deal. So, why start this profile of him with a garden shed?
It was the mid-1970s and Diamond was in graduate school at the University of Connecticut getting his MBA. One of his professors there, Jack Viega, mentioned that he was looking for someone to build a garden shed. Diamond, with some carpentry experience, gave his professor an estimate that landed the job.
And then Diamond was back, saying the estimate he’d given was too low. But rather than make excuses or try to blame it on the client, Diamond took responsibility and addressed the situation head-on. Viega remembers him saying, “‘Look. I screwed up. I didn’t estimate it right.’ … He’s an honest guy. That was what impressed me most. Something he did in that situation and how he behaved.”