Member Spotlight | Chris Larsen

Executive Director, CIBC Cleary Gull

ACG WI Member Since: 2022

ACG WI Involvement: NextGen Co-chair (2020-2021), NextGen Leadership Team (2018-2019), NextGen Member (2016-2021), GLC Subcommittee Member (2019 and 2022)

CIBC Cleary Gull
Chris Larsen, CIBC Cleary Gull

Why did you join ACG?
originally joined ACG to build connections. I was fortunate to be part of a firm that allowed me to get involved in ACG early in my career. My early involvement with ACG was attending the large annual events and capital connections (similar to our Growth & Leadership Conference) in other cities across the country. Since our business is national in scope, this allowed me to build connections with private equity firms and other centers of influence that were often involved in our deal processes or prospective clients. I began my involvement with the ACG Wisconsin chapter by joining the ACG Next Gen chapter. I was fortunate to build strong connections with my local peers and attend regular ACG events to expand my networking opportunities.

How has your involvement with ACG evolved over time?
After a few years as a member of the Next Gen chapter, I wanted to help grow the membership of the young professionals in the chapter. I joined the leadership committee and eventually Co-Chaired the committee. The opportunity to give back to the ACG Next Gen community to help young professionals build connections with peers, which has been immensely helpful in my career, was a very rewarding experience.

I’ve also had the pleasure of being involved in the Growth & Leadership Conference planning, specifically around working to obtain sponsorships for the beer and wine tasting and then the capital connection event that has been a part of the conference the last few years. Most of these sponsorships come from private equity firms across the country, the same private equity firms I began networking with years ago at other ACG Chapters’ events.

How has ACG WI helped you in your career?
It’s interesting to reflect on how connections-built years ago shape your career and involvement in professional associations. ACG Wisconsin and ACG nationally has been a big part of establishing a foundation for my career growth by facilitating those connections.

What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years, and what actions is your business taking to position it for success in the future?
It’s hard to imagine all the potential challenges our industry will face over the next 5 years. The most exciting aspect and the most challenging aspect of investment banking is that macroeconomic and end market dynamics are constantly changing. We regularly monitor the changing environment so we can provide our clients with the best advise based on current dynamics and expectations over the next 6-12 months. As a firm, our biggest assets are our people, so we are constantly looking for talented individuals to add to our team. The team we hire today will help shape our firm and culture over the next several years, so we put a lot of focus on hiring and training our team.

What do you do for fun?
I have many interests, so I’m a bit of a Jack of all trades, master of none. I like to cook, craft beer, wine, golf, work on cars, cut and split wood, workout, project around the house, and the list goes on.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
There are two things on my list to learn right now, and they are related to my “work on cars” hobby. I would like to learn how to weld and do body work. I’m not sure when I will fit that in, but good to have goals.

What is the best book you have read this past year?
I read an interesting combination of books earlier this year. I started with Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal. I loved how he intertwined his stories about war and managing the war with how it could be applied to a business setting. I’ve used some of these techniques in my own leadership methods. I then read Ghosts of Fallujah by Coley D. Tyler. Coley recollects his time in Iraq, and specifically the Second Battle of Fallujah. The interesting part of the combination of these two books, although they have nothing to do with each other, is that General Stanley McChrystal details how he changed the structure and interaction of the different branches of the military, and one of the themes in Coley’s book is how the approach to battles changed and coordination between branches and boots on the ground increased. Without intentionally seeking it out, I learned about General McChrystal’s change in approach and then read about it in action in a completely separate book.