CFO: Andrew Kessel

Andrew M. Kessel
William J. Clinton Foundation
Little Rock

Andy Kessel decided after graduating from the Wharton School of Finance to focus on his career so he eventually could afford to land a job that would let him help others.

He worked on Wall Street as a "fixed-income trader and trading manager," which he enjoyed "until I was about 40." He achieved the post of assistant vice president of Citibank's Capital Markets Division, specializing in cash/futures arbitrage.

"My notable skill back in those days - it still is - is I'm a computer maven," he said. "I brought my personal PC in 1981 onto the trading floor at Citibank and used it to try to do arbitrages." Helping introduce computers as trading tools is one of his greatest accomplishments, he said.

Kessel, now 53, rose to a vice presidency at Kidder Peabody & Co. and worked for nine years as a managing director at what is now Barclays Global Investments. After leaving Wall Street, he was a consultant using his skills in technology and risk management. That's how he ended up in Arkansas.

He had a farmer friend here, and in his new venture, Kessel "was taking what I'd known from risk management and fixed income and trying to build tools in the early days of the Worldwide Web that could be used by farmers to do risk management." Although it was an interesting project, "it turned out that farmers were never going to pay for this." Once the tech bubble burst in 2000-01, that was pretty much the end of that.

In 2003, he became the finance and budget director of the Wesley Clark for President Campaign. And in 2004, through "serendipity," he joined the Clinton Foundation. As for what he hopes to accomplish there, he wants to help establish, "at least on the business-financial end of things, the groundwork for an entity that can live on."

Kessel finds his position with the foundation "energizing" because he gets to work with young people more than he previously had. "I really enjoy mentoring."