Barclays' new M&A head and the art of the career comeback
If you're having a hard time in your personal and professional life and have reached a nadir where you need to step away for a while, that's ok. Banking careers can be long; life can intrude. Your career can recover.
Tim Main, the new head of investment banking for EMEA at Barclays illustrates the journey. Main began his career at JPMorgan in New York City in 1990. Around two decades ago, he was reportedly struggling. Facing a divorce, the New York Times reported that Main was under "duress." He was taking prescription medicine to help cope with the stress, which mixed badly with alcohol. There was an alleged episode of altered speech during a management meeting. Main was said to have taken a sabbatical shortly after.
After that sabbatical, Main continued working for JPMorgan until 2011, when he left for Evercore. In 2016, Main left Evercore for Barclays, where he was reunited with Jes Staley, the then CEO of Barclays, with whom he worked at JPMorgan. A mystery whistleblower subsequently contacted Barclays' board using what the FT described as "graphic language" to describe Main's previous problems. Staley's defence of Main and attempts to unearth the identity of the 'vindictive' whistleblower resulted in a £642k fine from the FCA and helped prepare the ground for his eventual resignation in November 2021 following an unrelated investigation into his dealings with Jeffrey Epstein.
While Staley is now presumably hanging out on his wooden boat and Hamptons Estate, Main's career is thriving. Having joined Barclays as chairman of the global financial institutions group, based in New York, he's now running the whole investment bank for the UK, Continental Europe and the Middle East, and Africa. It's expected that he will hire, across healthcare, tech and renewable energy (all the favourite sectors).
Far from being a source of shame, Main's experience should be a message to other people in the market that it's ok to take time out when things get too much. Your career need not be affected. It will probably benefit.
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