• Saturday, March 25, 2023


Barclays CEO CS Venkatakrishnan recalls criticism for continuing to work despite cancer: ‘Some asked if it was CEO swagger’

The 57-year-old wrote in a piece that the decision to work amid the illness was his alone and neither he nor Barclays would ever expect others to do the same if they were unwilling or unable.

CS Venkatakrishnan (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

CS Venkatakrishnan, the Indian-born chief executive of Barclays, has claimed that he was accused as “CEO swagger” by some people when he expressed an intention to work through his cancer treatment.

Writing in the Financial Times for World Cancer Day, Venkatakrishnan or Venkat as he prefers to be known as, said he got some messages following his diagnoses that suggested that his call to work through treatment was “a form of privilege” with his role affording himself a flexibility was denied to many other people.

“Some even asked if it was CEO swagger or, worse, ‘negative virtue signalling’, implying that it was wrong for others to take complete medical leave to heal themselves,” the 57-year-old wrote.

Though he clarified that his decision to work was his alone and neither he nor Barclays would ever expect others to do the same if they were either not willing nor able.

“My choices were neither a model nor requirement for others”, Venkatakrishnan said.

Venkat, however, also said that he wished he had been “more sensitive at the outset to this perception”.

The Barclays chief was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma last November. He continues to be involved in the bank’s operations despite undergoing treatment in New York since then.

Stressing on the positive side, he said, “An advantage of a slightly lighter schedule and relative confinement is that I have been able to be more contemplative about my role.”

“I think my comparative advantage to the firm is to be a more strategic and deliberative leader, engaging less frequently but more thoughtfully, and relying more on my colleagues,” he added.

In November 2021, Venkatakrishnan, who was born in the Indian city of Mysuru in 1966, succeeded Jes Staley who stepped down due to his connections with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Having worked as the bank’s head of global markets, Venkatakrishnan has the responsibility to boost Barclays’ share price which has slumped 8.5 per cent over past one year.

Eastern Eye

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