John Cryan took his place at the podium in the conference center in Davos at 4.15 p.m. on the dot on Wednesday, only to find that World Economic Forum discussions were delayed.
For about five minutes Mr. Cryan, Germany’s most powerful banker, waited without uttering a word to his neighbors, IMF head Christine Lagarde and PayPal chief Dan Schulman. Germany’s most powerful banker only came to life when the debate kicked off, calmly offering his take on the banking world.
His performance matched the British banker’s reputation after some six months at the top of Deutsche Bank. Mr. Cryan is not a man of grand words and big gestures. Those who deal with him praise his expertise and meticulous knowledge, but he remains aloof and introverted.
He does not play the zappy hero, like Josef Ackermann, who was at the bank’s helm from 2002 to 2012, or as a wily financial markets whizz kid, like Anshu Jain, who was co-chief from 2012 to 2015. In fact, Mr. Cryan is the antithesis of charismatic, with a deeply furrowed brow that reveals the pressures of the industry’s top job. He does not try to sugarcoat anything; he focuses on the facts. With characteristic consistency he analyzes, calculates and processes.