In my 24 years of writing for Fortune, I've focused on profile-writing, steadfast in my view that people, not systems, determine the fates of companies and economies around the globe. George Bush is proof positive (or negative, as the case may be) that the leader makes the difference. Now, as we watch Morgan Stanley (MS) get a lifeline from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU), which is buying a $9 billion stake, and the U.S. Treasury, which helped give the Japanese confidence to make the investment, I'm thinking a lot about the personality of Morgan Stanley's leader, John Mack.
Bear with me as I tout my own writing: The Fortune profile, "The Trials of John Mack", that I wrote in 2003 when he was running Credit Suisse Group's (CS) CSFB, presents as clear a view as any on how this relentless competitor thrives on pressure. I interviewed Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who was then competing against Mack as CEO of Goldman Sachs (GS), for that story. "At times when he ought to be down, he looks almost energized," Paulson said about Mack. One of Mack's closest pals, fabled Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, told me that when Mack seems exhausted, he tells his friend: "Are you an idiot? You're going to kill yourself." Typically, Mack shoots back: "I can see it getting better. I'm doing fine. How are you doing?"
I've kept in touch with Mack and written about him since 2003, through his ouster from CSFB (where he clashed with the board), through his wavering about returning to Morgan Stanley as CEO in 2005 (he'd left the firm in 2001 after 27 years, amidst disagreements with then-CEO Phil Purcell), through Morgan's recent role in the Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) bailouts, and lately during the market madness. Mack has proved his mettle. Last week, he promised Morgan Stanley employees that the firm would endure "the rumor-a-minute environment," as he calls it. With a little help from Paulson, Morgan and Mack are enduring. The stock is up 62%, to $16 a share, in midday trading. And, most critically, Morgan Stanley's recovery is helping the markets rebound.
"You can't be naive about the press. I had a lot of positive exposure but didn't recognize the opportunity for significant negative exposure. Exposure becomes celebrity, and you get a persona."
-- Erin Callan, former Lehman Brothers (LEH) CFO and now head of global hedge fund business at Credit Suisse (CS), in Katie Benner's exclusive Q&A with Callan in the current issue of Fortune. In her first interview since leaving Lehman MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Sep 30, 2008 7:07 PM ET
We've spent the last three months slicing and dicing the accomplishments and career histories of the most powerful women in business -- far too many facts and figures to fit into our Most Powerful Women package in the magazine. Here are 10 intriguing facts that we couldn't find space for in print:
Youngest woman to ever appear on the list: Marissa Mayer, VP of Search and User Experience at Google (GOOG). MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Sep 30, 2008 12:11 PM ET
I've talked on Postcards about the greatest sins of the big retailers: believing that if you build it, they will come. That focus on growth at all costs has hurt Starbucks (SBUX) and Home Depot (HD), whose stocks have just recently risen risen off of 52-week lows. Speaking of lows, there is Lowe's (LOW), which announced earnings Monday morning: down 8% in the second quarter. But thanks to solid expense MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 18, 2008 1:23 PM ET
Former Lehman Brothers (LEH) CFO Erin Callan has landed quickly—at Credit Suisse Group (CS). She's the new head of its investment bank's global hedge fund business.
I hear that she's been holed up in the Hamptons, and I expected her to take a while to find a new job. Some speculated that she would go to a hedge fund such as Chicago-based Citadel or Och-Ziff (OZM), and maybe even get out MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jul 15, 2008 4:07 PM ET
I saw Brady Dougan last evening. He's the under-the-radar CEO of one of the financial world's quietest giants, Credit Suisse Group (CS). The company's cocktail reception, hosted by Dougan at New York's Chelsea Art Museum, was off the record, so I can't tell you what we talked about. But I can tell you that this young chief sure seems to have grown into the big job. I spent time with MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 25, 2008 4:52 PM ET
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