Stan O'Neal, financial wisdom


Stan O'Neal
Date: 
Sun, 1951-10-07

Stanley O'Neal was born on this date in 1951. He is an African American businessman, administrator, and entrepreneur.

He was born in Roanoke, AL, and the son of a farmer and the grandson of a former slave. He lived with his father, mother, sister, and two brothers, and grew up in the tiny rural farming community of Wedowee. His mother worked as a “domestic,” cleaning houses.

When Stanley wasn’t harvesting crops with his three younger siblings, he sold and delivered newspapers. O'Neal's father showed great initiative and by the time his son was ready to go to school, O'Neal's family had moved from the cotton fields to Atlanta, where his father had established himself at General Motors and had moved into the middle class.

Stan O'Neal also worked on GM's assembly line as a teenager but GM spotted his strong intellect and sent him on a scholarship to the General Motors Institute (which later came to be known as Kettering University), where he gained a degree in industrial administration. His exceptional performance gained him entry into the Harvard Business School, where he attained his MBA in 1978. He earned his degree by receiving a merit scholarship from General Motors.

O’Neal once said, “My father told me I wasn’t cut out for farm work, I never took it as an insult.” O'Neal initially began work as an analyst for General Motors; within three years he was a director in the treasury division. He joined Merrill Lynch in 1986, eventually running Merrill's leveraged finance division. O’Neal was the company's global head of capital markets and co-head of the corporate and institutional client group. From 1998 to 2000, he was their CFO. He then briefly became president of Merrill's U.S. private client group, before becoming president of the firm in 2001. By 2003, he was CEO and chairman.

O'Neal earned $48 million in 2006. However in October 2007, Merrill Lynch reported losses of 2.3 billion dollars, due to the credit crises from the sub-prime mortgage market which occurred earlier in the year. On October 30, 2007, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., ousted him after reporting the biggest quarterly loss in the company's history.

O’Neal has been married twice and with his current wife, Nancy Garvey, have twins, a boy and a girl.

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O'Neal, Stan