Sekou Kaalund

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Director, Securities & Fund Services, Head of Strategy, Citigroup Global Transactional Services, New York City. Age: 30

The epitome of refinement describes Sekou Kaalund, an up-and-coming entrepreneur who continues to be prominent in Citigroup, one of the world’s largest financial institutions. In his role as director of strategy and planning for Securities and Funds Services, Kaalund focuses on implementing business strategy and managing the communications process to enhance the profitability of the franchise. Sounds like a huge responsibility for a 30-year-old. Undoubtedly. But Kaalund is up to the task. He previously worked in consumer lending, where he helped contribute to CitiMortgage’s increased ranking in the 2005 JD Power Mortgage Study to number eight, up from number 24 in 2004.

Kaalund’s ascension in the industry has been one of perseverance and determination. Those were valuable attributes for a young man who began his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York managing bank examinations for a portfolio of foreign banks in four countries, with total U.S. assets of more than $18 billion. He developed those attributes while in high school when his family lost its transportation business, at the time the largest in North Carolina. “I experienced the tale of two cities, the best of times and the worst of times,” he says. He also learned to accept life’s obstacles as “an opportunity that tests our ability, patience and faith.”

Kaalund earned a master’s degree in public policy at Duke University. Prior to attending Duke, Kaalund was a merit scholar at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, concentrating in Spanish, classical studies and public service. Perhaps it is his positive outlook on life and his oratory skills that make him a pillar among his colleagues and in the community. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and networking events and mentors youth in Operation Hope, an organization that partners with inner-city public schools to teach students about banking, economics and empowerment. “Live to serve,” he advises. “In the end, what will matter most is how I helped and the impact that I had on the lives of others.”