“I thought, there are probably thousands of bankers in the U.S. and Europe who can do the same as me here,” he says. “But this is a lot more entrepreneurial.”
For Yammine, “this” meant returning to the Middle East, where he grew up, to help forge what would become one of the region’s first investment banks.
Born in Lebanon, Yammine came to the United States at 17 to attend LMU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in science. He was embarking on a journey that would culminate with him becoming a key financial player in the Middle East.
He helped found Lebanon Invest, one of the first investment banks in the region. While in banking, he was involved in advising Lebanese government officials on reforms, before himself becoming minister of industry in 2005. Then, he founded Audi Saudi Arabia and headed investment banking for Audi Group, Lebanon’s largest banking group.
Around 2007, he joined the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, a global investment bank. As co-CEO of Middle East/North Africa operations, Yammine managed the bank’s investment banking and asset management business in the region, building a solid presence for the bank.
When asked about the financial crisis and bankers’ reputation, Yammine acknowledges that, on the whole, bankers don’t have the most sterling of reputations.
“I don’t think it’s that the profession is not a good profession,” he says. “But you have some bad bankers, and I think the regulatory environment needs to tighten up, and regulators need to step up their game.”
These days, Yammine lives in Lebanon. His Credit Suisse days are (amicably) behind him as of late 2012; he left to manage his private investments. He says he’s “not keen on going back to politics.”
Which isn’t to say he hasn’t looked back. He acknowledges that his career was successful, if not incredibly consuming, and, in the first weeks away from Credit Suisse, he felt a little lost. But Yammine, who with his wife has three children, has no doubt that he made the right decision.
“I don’t want to be on the phone when I’m having dinner with my family,” he says. “So it’s an adjustment. But once you do it, it’s a fantastic feeling.”
José Martinez ’11 is a writer and former public radio reporter who is a frequent contributor to LMU Magazine. He lives in San Jose, Calif.