Born: South Charleston, W.Va.
First job: Paper boy. In seventh grade, I had a paper route after school. Interestingly, the only part of the job that I hated was collecting.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, economics, Denison University; MBA, Stanford University
Biggest business challenge:
One is the situation I confronted at Huntington in ’01. The other was in ’89 when I went to Texas for Bank One. Bank One had taken over a large, failed bank and this was a very difficult challenge for several reasons. One was because, up until that point at Bank One, I had spent most of my career with small banks in small communities: Wooster, Ohio; Mansfield, Ohio. All of a sudden, I was in an environment where it was a large, statewide bank with thousands of employees, none of whom knew anything at all about Bank One. They had failed. They were in different businesses than we wanted to be in. They were in commercial real estate and energy lending and these were businesses we didn’t really know. And everybody wanted to know what we wanted them to do and we had to sort out who we wanted to retain and who we didn’t want to retain and there were lots of bad loans, which is why they failed. It was just an incredibly intense period and process. It was a big test for Bank One, too. The investment community was really interested to see if they could move out of its customary ‘taking a good bank and making it better’ model to taking a failed bank, away from the Midwest, and make it a success. It was a wonderful thing to be involved with but it was the first time I had to manage people who were geographically removed from me. It turned out to be a big success. But it was a major challenge. It was both chilling and thrilling.
Most important business lesson: Be open and honest and have clear communication with employees. Employees watch the leader, so your behavior has to be consistent with your words. And you really have to have trust among employees in order to move an organization forward.