Monday, October 29, 2007

Stan O'Neal Set to Depart Merrill Lynch as CEO

The only thing more surprising than seeing a black Wall Street executive on the cover of today's Wall Street Journal was the staggering $8.4 billion third-quarter write down that will close the curtain on Stan O'Neal's tenure at US financial behemoth Merrill Lynch.

While O'Neal (pictured left)is widely credited with returning the company to profitability after coming on board as president in 2001 - he later became CEO and chairman of the board, the supposedly aloof O'Neal irked many members of "Mother Merrill's" ranks of entrenched, loyal, and some say most experienced, executives and trimmed the members of management who didn't fall in line with his more expansive vision for the company's direction.

The mortgage crisis has and will claim a lot of casualties from the ranks of Wall Street but O'Neal is the highest ranking so far. A former GM executive and unquestionably the highest-ranking African-American Wall Street executive in history, O'Neal will likely leave with a package worth well over $100 million.

Irrespective of how much blame he shoulders for a global credit crunch, O'Neal's personal story is an amazing story of transformation. His ascension through the executive ranks of one of Wall Streets largest firms has had an immeasurable effect on the nation's perception of Wall Street and the scope of his professional achievements in an industry that is notoriously lacking in diversity has forever altered the culturegeist.

Props to Stan for rocking the culturegeist.

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