This is a story about appreciating your talents, and letting them take you to the top.
In an interview with OneWire’s Skiddy von Stade, Ben Carpenter explained his ascent to co-CEO of brokerage firm Greenwich Capital, after learning he wasn’t the best trader on Wall Street.
After starting his career at Bankers Trust and a brief stint at Morgan Stanley, Carpenter became a salesman at Greenwich Capital. After a couple successful years selling, Carpenter was moved over to the trading desk.
“I was really excited about this because I always wanted to be a trader, and I knew that I was going to be a terrific trader and so I enthusiastically accepted the job, and for the next two years I proved myself to be maybe one of the worst traders in the history of Wall Street,” Carpenter said.
After two years without profits, Carpenter (along with the rest of the firm) knew he had to do something else. It was then that Greenwich Capital founder Ted Knetzger approached Carpenter with an executive offer as the company’s chief financial officer.
Despite his initial reluctance to return to sales, Carpenter actually ended up turning down the CFO position and went back to selling.
“When I looked in the mirror, I realised I had a deep-seated need to get back to doing something I was good at and that I could contribute to the firm at,” Carpenter said. “I went back to sales with a renewed appreciation for doing something I was good at, and a renewed determination to really contribute to the firm.”
Carpenter said it was this decision that ultimately got him to the CEO position.
“I am confident that if I had taken Ted up on his generous offer to be the CFO, I wouldn’t have been able to lead by example and lead from strength and I would never have gotten to become the head of the company.”
Greenwich Capital is now RBS Securities, and Carpenter is the Vice Chairman of CRT Capital.
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