Farewell to Giulio - 28.1.2015 - Church St Mary-le-Bow
It's a very sad privilege to stand here today and say a few parting words about our good friend Giulio Di Cerbo. As his former colleague and partner at Citi it is for me to talk about Giulio the banker, the senior executive, the industry figure. But all of you who are here today know that one cannot just remember Giulio as a banker and a business man without also talking about Giulio the person, Giulio the humorous, entertaining and spirited character, the colourful and irreverent spirit, the questioning and innovative mind and Giulio the mentor and friend. Throughout his professional life Giulio was truly not just another expensive suit, even though we all remember his impeccable style and appointment.He was a colourful and engaging original, someone who always questioned the established truths and rules, who constantly searched for ways of doing things better, for the next opportunity, and someone who, more than anything else, was focused on people, on the human side of any situation and on the interactions and relationships of people with him and around him.
Giulio couldn't be or work alone. He always cultivated groups of people, of colleagues and friends around him. People whom he could bounce his ideas off, people who complemented his approach to work, people who shared his enthusiasm or at least provided their support, and people who enjoyed work, who enjoyed the challenge of the new and of good-natured interaction. He had a way to attract people, to make them feel valued and part of something larger. Working with him was unconventional, often unstructured and circular, sometimes frustrating. But ALWAYS entertaining, always good fun.
I first met Giulio during an impromptu interview in New York. I was visiting NY and a friend of mine suggested I interview for a job at Citi I knew nothing about. Giulio happened to be there at the time and I was treated to a one hour monologue ranging from mind mapping, to the Art of Selling, to why I should work for him. He didn't care that I had no idea about the business. That was a detail, a technical obstacle, i.e. not something Giulio bothered too much about. Giulio was not a man who let himself be stopped by technicalities. He focused on other things. Relating to 'things' to processes to aspects of the business he looked for the idea, for ways to change and improve, for means to do something differently or better. He was always certain that once a direction was identified, the practicalities would sort themselves out, or at least would be sorted out by those around him with more of a mind for technicalities. With regards to people, he looked for the right mind-set, for the interest in a challenge, for the willingness to move things forward. And relating to people he did not delegate. He cared about his peoples' development, he quickly understood their strengths and weaknesses - he knew his chickens - as he so often said. He challenged where he could and supported where necessary. He was a natural mentor to so many of us. One of the comments that ring in my ear from when I first started sharing the sad news of Giulio's passing, is the message, often repeated, that Giulio played a truly important role in so many people's careers and lives, that he had helped, guided, and supported so many of us along the way, and that so many of us owe our respect and gratitude for his role in helping us be and become the persons we are today.
While I want to touch on Giulio's career, I won't dwell on the milestones. Giulio wouldn’t have found this interesting or important. I'll limit myself to a brief summary Giulio spent most of his working life at Citi, in multiple disciplines. He started out in the Consumer Bank, spent many years and much exotic travel in the Cash Management organisation, before ultimately joining the securities business, which he was instrumental in building for Citi and which is, of course, the space most of you know him from. He lived and worked in many locations, including Brussels, Athens, Milan, but most of his later working live and the prime of his career was based in London. Giulio occupied many senior positions during his time at Citi, had a vast network within the bank and outside and was always appreciated and consulted by people outside his direct line of business. But above all, Giulio was a client man through and through - true to his passions…people and ideas. Not a man to sit still and tend to his olives when he retired, he continued on working tirelessly in the industry, as consultant to the Romanian securities market, as Chairman of Monte Titoli and as strategic advisor to the LSE. In his last months he had begun to step back from some of his official functions, but he was full of plans and ideas, both for further engagement and investment in the securities industry as well as for new ventures in his second home, Sardinia. He was fully invested in life, it was much too early for him to go.
Today we unite to remember and to celebrate a unique man. A father, a partner, a friend. A mentor, a colourful industry figure. And a fine human being. We will miss you, Giulio. But we will also remember the things you have left us with: the guidance, the fun, the friendship and our personal advancement and successes due to you. All those will stay and endure. What greater legacy can you ask for.
Thank you, Giulio.