Is top firm CEO 'really such a jerk ?'

The Jerk

'And I don’t go around enough and say, ‘Hi, Sally. Hi, Joe, how you doing ?’ And that’s because that’s who I am. I wish I was different'.

Pimco’s Bill Gross appears on the cover of the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek – on newsstands tomorrow, Friday, and online now – under the cover line: 'Am I Really Such a Jerk ?: Bill Gross’s Case for Bill Gross'.

BBW: Bill Gross Jerk Cover

For Gross’s first sit-down interview since the January resignation of Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian, his deputy and chosen successor, the 'Bond King' invited Bloomberg Businessweek national correspondent Sheelah Kolhatkar to Newport Beach, CA in late March, to tell his side of story and to discuss Pimco’s future.

Gross, who oversees nearly $2 trillion, had his world was shaken by El-Erian’s shocking defection and ensuing the press furor in which he was depicted as an erratic tyrant – a depiction, Gross says now, that led him onto an uncomfortable path of self-analysis and to make important management changes at Pimco. Kolhatkar details the complicated Gross-El-Erian relationship, what happened at Pimco before and after El-Erian left, and the current mental state of perhaps the most influential financial manager of the past two decades.

Kolhatkar writes: 'Gross knows the world is changing, and the person he had been counting on to help him figure it out — El-Erian — is missing'.


Reading about himself in the press this year, Gross says he thought, 'Is this the person I am and have been ? People have different impressions of themselves, and where reality lies is somewhere in between, and maybe I hadn’t been forced to be in between. I always thought of myself as being part of a family and sharing and, yes, leading, but not forcing people to do anything, and so it was almost like a metaphysical few months where I was like, is this me ? Sort of like the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland — instead of who are you, who am I ? That’s been the most upsetting part. Are they right ? Or am I right ?’

According to Gross, El-Erian never fully explained his decision to leave, saying only: 'I’m not the man to lead the company forward'.

*'I begged, as much as a man in my position can beg. I didn’t get on my knees, but - ‘Don’t leave. What are you doing ? Don’t!’ And at some point it was, ‘All right, already''.

'I would admit I’m an introvert. I don’t know why introverts have to apologize', he declares, banging the table. 'But it is true—it’s hard for me to come in at 5:30 a.m. and be into the bond market. And I don’t go around enough and say, ‘Hi, Sally. Hi, Joe, how you doing ?’ And that’s because that’s who I am. I wish I was different'.

After attending a March 27th daily Pimco Investment Committee meeting, run by Gross’s new deputy CIOs, Kolhatkar writes: 'The meeting ended with a spirited debate about whether it was possible to know how soon interest rates would go up. ‘You wouldn’t have seen that a few months ago,’ Gross says afterward. ‘The willingness of everyone to jump in. This to me is, like, man, this is really good… The challenge of this new structure is making sure that the risk vs. return is being adequately adjusted for, without being ‘the boss.’ But I ultimately am responsible… It’s not always necessarily a productive process to have everyone leave the meeting with smiles on their faces. Maybe there should be a grain of sand in the oyster to produce the pearl, maybe there should be some conflict. So that’s the challenge for me, as CIO. To recognize that some people thought I was autocratic, to recognize that. To recognize that this new atmosphere is fresh and exciting to me, as well as to them, but also … that the task of a CIO and a leader is like a captain on a ship: to combine all of the people on board into a cohesive unit that produces results'.

Hit the link below to access the complete Bloomberg Businessweek article:

Pimco's Bill Gross Picks Up the Pieces

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