Lehman’s Last Hires Look Back
Four people who started at Lehman Brothers the day it failed reflect on the lessons they’ve learned
Corrie DriebuschSept. 7, 2018 8:00 a.m. ET
September 15, 2008, was one of the darkest days in the history of Wall Street. For four new college graduates, it was also their first day of work at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
Sohil Sheth, Luvleen Sidhu, Justin Gaines and Brian Grossman walked through the doors of Lehman just as the venerable investment bank filed for bankruptcy protection, an event that sent shockwaves around the globe. The aftershocks continue to define many aspects of American life a decade later.
The crisis provided these unlucky millennials with a new perspective. Big institutions were no longer infallible. Wall Street no longer offered a guaranteed career path. Life was more fragile than they knew.
One thing was certain: Their world would never again look the same.
Luvleen Sidhu now runs her own startup, called BankMobile, based in New York City. ‘My first day [at Lehman] was kind of crazy, in an eerie way that we were ignoring reality.’ Photo: Michael Bucher/The Wall Street Journal
I interned at Lehman after my sophomore and junior years at Harvard. I graduated in 2008 and started six weeks of training, and the first day on the job was the bankruptcy. I remember contacting HR and I asked, should I come in? I’ve locked the response in my head because it was so unusual. The response was, ‘please come in, it’s business as usual.’
My first day was kind of crazy, in an eerie way that we were ignoring reality. No one was acting panicked. No one was acting out of line, though maybe they were behind closed doors.
For it to happen the first day of my career, it really showed the fragility of things. I was gung-ho Lehman. I still have our Lehman bag. Lehman squishy ball. Lehman training binder. I thought I was going to a top investment bank.
I think it was for the best in hindsight. We had this clear trajectory: Go to a top undergrad school, do banking or consulting, then go to business school. All those things still happened, but what changed I think is entrepreneurship really blossomed. You realized that’s not the only path in life to make you feel you accomplished something. There’s impact that you can make in different ways.