David Mahl, PhD
SVP Talent Management, Organizational Development and HR Strategy at Citi
David received his B.A. in Physics from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Psychology from University of Texas at Austin. David’s career has progressed from an education in mathematics and science, to a psychology doctorate, to clinical psychology practice, and now to a focus on Organizational Psychology and Talent Management.
David joined Citi in an internal talent management and organizational development role about one and a half years ago. The two main components of his position involve: 1) designing and managing high potential programs for the consumer businesses, and 2) conducting organizational design work.
David particularly enjoys the high potential development work, in large part because of the fact that he was able to build the program from scratch. He had his hands in every aspect, from the nomination and selection process, how the program is structured, working with executives, managing vendors, and launching the programs across the Consumer businesses. Additionally, through the management of this development program, David has been able to learn a lot about the strategy of the business and understand key organizational drivers. The other main area of David’s current role – organizational design – has allowed him grow and learn a lot on the job. Within this responsibility, David focuses on organizational structures, how to best define roles, and aspects of selection and assessment.
One of the benefits of an internal role, as David has learned, has been his ability to create and maintain more meaningful relationships with his internal customers. He has also found there to be more variety in the type of work he is doing than he originally anticipated. David is being exposed to a fuller range of HR activities, including compensation, performance management, and employee surveys.
David’s career has followed an unusual path. He started out in clinical work after receiving his doctorate with a focus in child and adolescent psychology. David joined a private practice and worked mainly with children. From this experience, he realized he wanted to expand and work with adults as well. It was during this time that he got introduced to corporate America by doing career counseling. David’s work as a career counselor expanded his horizons to I/O psychology, and he started attending METRO meetings.
By attending METRO meetings, David developed more of an interest in the field, and he “cold-called” METRO members to understand their backgrounds, career paths and work in the field. David also took on the responsibility of Editor for the METRO newsletter and continued to expand his network. Through his networking, David connected with PDI. PDI had a lot of individuals with counseling backgrounds, so they were open to bringing him on board. By joining PDI, David had his initiation into world of talent management. David worked at PDI for four years, with a focus on executive assessment and development and high potential program design. In this role, David was able to learn the various processes and tools of talent assessment and HR consulting.
In the future, David’s target role is to be a head of talent for a large business group within Citi or a mid-size company. He has also been contemplating expanding his horizons to other HR roles, such as Generalist or Compensation positions to gain breadth of experience before moving into a Head of Talent role.
Through his career as both an internal and external consultant, David believes he has gained very useful experience. He would advise students to examine the differences between internal and external roles. Additionally, he believes it is helpful to have an idea of where you want to go, but recognize that nothing needs to be set in stone – it is important to remain open to opportunities.
Reported by: Julie Weintraub