Barclays boss recounts criticism of refusing to stop work amid cancer treatment
Barclays chief executive CS Venkatakrishnan said that some people accused him of “CEO swagger” when he said he intended to work through his cancer treatment.
Writing in the Financial Times for World Cancer Day, Venkatakrishnan – who prefers to be known as Venkat – said he received some messages after his diagnoses that suggested his decision to work through treatment was “a form of privilege, with my role affording me a flexibility denied to many others”
“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,” he wrote.
“I quickly clarified that the decision to work was mine alone, and neither Barclays nor I would ever expect others to do the same if they were unwilling, or unable. My choices were neither a model nor requirement for others”, he added.
However, Venkat also said he wished he had been “more sensitive at the outset to this perception.”
The Barclays chief was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in November. He has been receiving treatment in New York since then, but continues to be involved in the operations of the bank.
Despite the treatment, Venkat stressed the positive side.
“An advantage of a slightly lighter schedule and relative confinement is that I have been able to be more contemplative about my role,” he said.
“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.
Venkat was parachuted in to head Barclays after Jes Staley stepped down due to his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He had previously been the bank’s head of global markets.
Venkat has been tasked with boosting Barclays share price, which trades at a significant discount to book value. Its share price has fallen 8.5 per cent over the past 12 months. The bank will publish its results later in February.