By Audrey Adkins ’18, Business Honors

The pursuit of challenging experiences and an unwillingness to condone complacency are key factors contributing to Raja Akram’s success in life. His professional experience in the financial services industry provided a powerful message on the significance of seeking challenge and maintaining focus on long-term ambitions. These factors are important to consider throughout the lifetime of a career.

Akram ’95 (finance) and ’97 (PPA), Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of Citigroup, spoke Nov. 9 with a group of Business Honors students. He shared a number of stories and formative experiences from his career.

He encouraged students to pursue opportunities that promote growth and learning. In his career, growth was often the product of his willingness to work through challenging circumstances. When faced with challenging circumstances, Akram advised students to “focus on being solution providers.” He stated that value creation often comes in the form of solution creation, rather than problem analysis.

Akram also provided a number of points for students to consider throughout their careers. The points included:

  • Don’t shy away from difficult circumstances
  • Be willing to invest significantly in learning and gaining knowledge
  • Seek out careers of genuine individual interest
  • Surround yourself with people who have your best interests in mind

In Akram’s words, “Success in life is related to choices made and disappointments considered.” Throughout his lifetime, Akram has aligned choices with his overall career goals and has learned to persevere when faced with disappointing circumstances and obstacles.

Business Honors major Allison Riffe commented on her appreciation for the way in which Mr. Akram maintained motivation throughout his career: “It was so clear that Mr. Akram refused to be comfortable in both his career and his learning. That was a poignant lesson in intrinsic motivation.”