“Leaders allow their teams to envision the road ahead, inspire emotionally and intellectually, and drive results through empowerment and accountability.”
– Jomo Russell, Executive in Residence, U of T Scarborough Management
Jomo Russell, CFA has over 15 years of commercial lending experience primarily focused on acquisition and event-driven financings. His expertise includes both enterprise value-based lending on a senior and subordinated debt basis as well as asset-based lending for various private equity–sponsored LBOs, MBOs, acquisitions, and general recapitalizations leading both bilateral and syndicated structures.
Jomo currently leads CIBC’s Procurement group where he is responsible for end-to-end procurement, including all programs related to planning, supplier selection, negotiating, contracting, and purchasing across the enterprise. His diverse sector experience includes transactions in business services, manufacturing, retail, transportation, energy, distribution, construction, health care, and food industries.
An active participant in the community, Jomo is a member of the Board of Directors of Lifelong Leadership Institute, a not-for-profit providing leadership development opportunities for high-achieving Black high school students in Ontario.
Jomo earned an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and is a CFA Charterholder. Read more about his vision and values below.
Department of Management: Jomo, we are thrilled to welcome you aboard! Let’s start off by learning where you grew up, and from what age you began to develop an interest in business?
Jomo Russell: I I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, and funnily enough started selling ice cubes to my fellow students in elementary school and expanded to lollipops and flavoured water in high school! I always figured I would have a career in business.
M: What have been your greatest career milestones and/or proudest moments?
J: I've had lots of great moments, but a few milestones that jump out include leading the Leveraged Finance team at CIBC after initially joining as a junior Associate and helping drive some of the most notable M&A transactions in the Canadian mid-market. My current role leading a team of experienced and committed Procurement professionals who help protect and drive value for the bank is also something I’m very proud of.
M: From your perspective, what are the characteristics of a great leader?
J: Leaders allow their teams to envision the road ahead, inspire emotionally and intellectually, and drive results through empowerment and accountability.
M: What is your main message at this time for Management students at U of T Scarborough?
J: Networking remains the most important skill in fulfilling career aspirations, and the ability to engage with people on a personal level is something that can absolutely be improved with practice.
M: What is the best advice you received from a manager or a mentor at any point in your career?
J: Be authentic and transparent with people. Folks will understand that you don’t have all the answers but will appreciate the journey of seeking out those answers together.
M: Describe your pathway to success: did you relentlessly pursue a single career goal, or did you adapt and pivot along the way? What surprises you most about where you ended up?
J: I knew I wanted to become a banker only after joining a bank and getting a glimpse of the work! I could do this by pursuing a rotational start to my career and gaining exposure to different areas before discovering the one that interested me most. The pathway entailed lots of internal networking and garnering executive sponsorship along the way.
M: If you could recommend one book for all business students to read, what would it be and why?
J: Too tough to choose just one! The Outsiders by William Thorndike shares stories of CEOs who followed unconventional paths to success; Tap Dancing to Work by Carol Loomis tells the Warren Buffet story exceptionally well including Buffet’s own words and insights on business problems that remain timeless; and, for students interested in investing, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham which remains the Holy Grail for value investing practitioners.
M: When it comes to engaging with U of T Scarborough students, what are you most looking forward to?
J: Learning about their individual journeys, their aspirations, and the challenges they have overcome along the way, and sharing my own experiences (both good and bad) to hopefully help.
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