Dinner With Jamie

Dinner With Jamie

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When you leave a company – either because you retired, quit or got fired – you don’t normally expect the CEO to invite you to dinner years later.

But that’s exactly what Jamie Dimon does.

Last week, he convened more than 100 former executives of JPMorgan in an annual tradition.

It’s an example of a winning strategy any company or CEO could replicate.

By reaching out to the former braintrust, Dimon can tap into decades of insights and relationships, as well as help burnish the brand.

Fittingly, it’s held in the Morgan Library, located in the complex that contains the home and library of banker J. Pierpont Morgan on 36th and Madison Ave. It’s now a museum that includes Gutenberg Bibles.

The most significant event that occurred in the library was during the Panic of 1907 when J. Pierpont Morgan assembled America’s biggest bankers, famously locking the doors and refusing to let them leave until they reached a deal.

Dimon’s dinner was less confrontational; He greeted everyone as they arrived.

“Jamie is a connector and culture carrier,” said Eric Rosen, a former Managing Director who headed credit trading 14 years ago and now publishes a newsletter called The Rosen Report. He has been going to dinners for six years.

This year the event drew a bigger crowd, possibly because Dimon recently said he plans to retire after running the bank since 2006. Attendees included former CEO Bill Harrison and former vice chairman Don Layton.

The format changed a bit this year with Dimon first being interviewed in an auditorium. He took some questions before guests moved to drinks and food.

Rosen said he was impressed with Dimon’s ability to reel off even small operational details, such as the locations where bank branches are being added around the world.

The event underscores the value Dimon puts on personal connection.

Most companies lose touch with employees who leave. These days fewer people get a send-off dinner much less the kind of engraved clock my father received when he retired after 38 years.

That seems like a missed opportunity, particularly as people often go on to start related ventures. Alumni can help with recruiting and deal flow. How they talk about the firm after leaving can shape its image.

Some others companies on the Street, in particular Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, also cultivate strong alumni networks. Goldman is well-known for rehiring executives who have left.

Rosen says he appreciates networking with former colleagues as much as he does hearing from his former boss.

No one leaves the Dimon dinner with an engraved timepiece.

But they get something more valuable in the modern world: a book with the names and contact info of the other attendees.


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