Running With the Bulls

Merrill Lynch's E. Stanley O'Neal has taken a path less traveled to become one of the highest paid and most powerful blacks in corporate America

“It was just bad timing.”

During apprehensive times, he turns to the comfort of Nancy, his wife of 17 years-and “biggest champion”-for support, and spends time biking with his nine-year-old fraternal twins, a son and a daughter. He also draws inspiration from stories of those involved in the civil rights movement. “I was born and raised in the segregated South, and I remember fear as a young boy growing up,” he says. “These people had to live with fear, live through fear, and still move on and make changes in the world.”

Still an avid reader, O’Neal reaches for biographies-especially those on Martin Luther King Jr.-to help him continuously hone his managerial skills. “I admire his strength of leadership, his vision, the moral fortitude he maintained while pursuing that vision, and, more than anything else, his courage,” he states reverently.

O’Neal’s career is the result of a unique set of circumstances-an atypical upbringing and atypical career choices. He has-in ways both voluntary and involuntary-taken a road not traveled by most Wall Street powerbrokers. Indeed, those decisions have produced a career worthy of tremendous pride. But the Alabama native remains humble: “When I think back to when I was growing up and compare it to my life now, I see that I’ve been very fortunate. At times, I’m even a bit amazed.”

O’Neal doesn’t focus on whether he’ll be chosen to take over Merrill Lynch as CEO. But it’s safe to say that the road ahead of him may lead to the most amazing adventures yet.

E. Stanley O’Neal
At-a-Glance
Born: 1951, Wedowee, Alabama
Title: President, U.S. Private Client Group; Member, Executive Management Committee, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc
Education: Kettering University, B.S., 1974; Harvard Business School, M.B.A., 1978
Current residence: New York
Distance from New York City to Wedowee by car: 970.4 miles (approximately 18 hours)
Finds Most Troubling About Society: Inequality, such as the Digital Divide
First car: A used Chevrolet, purchased in high school
Current car: A BMW
Hobbies: Reading, playing golf, attending sporting events with kids
Fitness routine: Stationary bike, Stairmaster and free weights, four to five days a week
Social Causes Championed: Education and the plight of children
Board Affiliations: Ronald McDonald House;
ScholarshipBuilder, Atlanta

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