<strong>BISHER ARMANAZI</strong><br />I was working as a trader in structured indices derivatives in London when Lehman Brothers went under. I was at home on the Sunday and happened to turn on the TV to see the story that the bank would not be receiving a government bailout. I went straight to a bar with a couple of colleagues and we spent the evening mulling over what would happen next.<br /><br />The next day, there was shock and surprise that no one had saved Lehman from collapse. Some people packed up and left straight away, while others spent the day making frantic phone calls to other banks. I was lucky in that I didn’t have a mortgage and had a bit of leeway from my savings, so I didn’t need to worry immediately about the loss of my salary.<br /><br />I lingered on for a couple of months at the Canary Wharf office under Nomura, until the merger was officially completed. But I had already been working on a start-up initiative at the weekends, so I left to concentrate full time on my new business, AgentPad, a social networking site targeted at property professionals.<br /><br />I also had more time to concentrate on my music and subsequently reached the semi-finals of a national singer-songwriter competition called Live and Unsigned.<br /><br />All in all, I’d say the collapse of Lehman Brothers was positive for me. I’m not earning yet, which is hard when you’ve been used to a banking salary, but it’s a choice I’ve made. I feel happier and more fulfilled being an entrepreneur than I ever was working behind a trading desk.<br /><br /><strong>LAYONNIE THOMAS</strong><br />My first reaction to the news that Lehman Brothers had collapsed was utter disbelief. Now at Nomura, I was then working in Lehman’s corporate events team, and a colleague in New York sent a text message to me on Sunday at about 11pm saying: “That’s it, it’s over”. I went to bed not knowing what to think.<br /><br />Uncertainty reigned over the next few days. There were a lot of people wandering around upset, and all of us were worried about paying the mortgage that month and making ends meet without a salary.<br /><br />Our team kept in touch with each other and continued to come into the office, waiting to hear from the administrators whether or not there would be any sort of deal. There was also a lot of pressure on all of us to actively look for new job vacancies, and there was certainly a feeling of despair that we had to act quickly or risk ending up without a job at all.<br /><br />There was huge relief when Nomura rescued us and I feel things have changed tremendously. Over the past nine months the number of events we are planning has increased hugely – our corporate boxes at the O2 and Wembley are always full, and things are improving as each month goes by.<br /><br />I now feel very optimistic about the future. Since the collapse I got married and bought a house, and I’m now working with a great team. An awful lot has changed, but when I compare how I was feeling a year ago with how I feel now, I don’t believe it could have worked out any better.<br /><strong><br />PETER UBRIACO</strong><br />I was working for Lehman Brothers’ IT division in New Jersey when the bank collapsed, and I was shocked. It was very hard to believe that a firm as big as Lehman would not pull through and would not be saved from going under.<br /><br />I was lucky in that I didn’t have much invested in the firm because I hadn’t been there very long. One man I knew was crying his eyes out on that first Monday because he’d lost enough money to buy a house in stock options alone.<br /><br />Immediately after the collapse, the atmosphere wasn’t as you might imagine – there were a few people who just grabbed their belongings and left, but most people were trying to work and pretending it was business as usual.<br /><br />I eventually left to found my own IT consultancy firm shortly after Barclays Capital came in and took over the valuable parts of the business. I’d wanted to start up my own business since college, though my family wanted me to take a “safe job” at an established firm like Lehman Brothers. It’s ironic, really. I had only stayed on as long as I did at Lehman Brothers because I had a great relationship with my direct manager – originally, I had thought about leaving after Bear Stearns was sold to JP Morgan Chase in March 2008.<br /><br />If there’s one thing the whole affair taught me, it’s that money isn’t everything. I used to almost feel that I made more money than I knew what to do with. Now, I’m not making remotely as much money as I used to, but there’s no way I’d go back, even if I had the chance.<br /><br /><strong>LARRY MCDONALD</strong><br />Just before Lehman Brothers failed, it was like that feeling in a relationship that something is wrong, a sinking feeling that you are perhaps being cheated on. Around the Thursday before, I was speaking to people who said the officials were holding Lehman’s head under water and watching for any bubbles.<br /><br />When it actually happened, there was a mixed reaction in New York – some people acted like the band on the Titanic, stoically working away like nothing had happened and preparing for their meetings as normal.<br /><br />Others were crying, and if you went into any of the bars around the office, there were huge groups of people milling about with long faces from the horror of it all.<br /><br />I wasn’t actually working there any more when it happened – I was forced out in March as part of a group that had been vocal in standing up to the management’s strategy. Down the road, I felt very relieved about that but at the time it was a horrible feeling.<br /><br />After I left, I took the summer off and then began writing my book, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, after Lehman went under in September, to put the record straight. I’m now working at hedge fund, Pangea Capital Management, and I’m also doing a lot of public speaking.<br /><br />But I think that a lot of the lessons from the Lehman collapse have not been learned. With the likes of Bank of America swallowing up Merrill Lynch, the banks are no longer just too big to fail, they are also too big to succeed.