Michael O'Neill has moved boldly in the 13 months he's run Bank of Hawaii parent Pacific Century Financial Corp.
Bankoh chief has been
hearing from customers
By Dave Segal
Despite a major restructuring plan, though, it's his "Tell Mike" marketing campaign that still attracts the most attention.
The correspondence crusade, which has drawn more than 5,000 responses since its four-week television debut in May, encourages viewers to e-mail him at email@example.com with suggestions on ways to improve customer service, banking products and the overall business.
Of all the responses, one in particular jumps out.
"One gentleman suggested that he hated standing in line at our branches but would hate it less if we showed pornographic films," said O'Neill, who has made customer service one of the key areas that he wants to improve.
The 55-year-old chairman and chief executive didn't have to think too long on his reply.
"I said we were working on the lines but I didn't think that would be a solution to the problem," O'Neill said.
O'Neill came to Hawaii after serving briefly in early 1999 as CEO of Barclays Plc in London.
The new executive immediately made a splash when he announced during his introductory press conference that he would show his confidence in the company by purchasing $10 million of Pacific Century stock on the open market. He eventually ended up buying $11.3 million in stock, totaling 830,000 shares, at an average price of about $15. The stock trades today at $25.20 a share.
"Clearly, most of my money is concentrated in Pacific Century stock because I thought, and continue to think, it is a good investment," O'Neill said. "But I have other investments in stocks, bonds and in real estate, effectively most of (the real estate investment) in my house. I know the banking business pretty well, but I tend to diversify so I own a number of mutual funds. They tend to be index-type funds."
O'Neill tries to set aside the weekend for his family. He has been married to Trish for 29 years and has a 13-year-old son, Pete, living here. Another son, Ted, 17, goes to school in Connecticut. He also has two Irish setters, Roger and Cory.
O'Neill also has several passions that he tries to fit into his schedule.
Among those interests are art, reading (mostly nonfiction), classic cars (he drives a 1963 Porsche and a 1961 Jaguar) and golf (a 15 handicap but he hopes to get better).
O'Neill, who has been in banking most of his life, learned about work the hard way when he was fired by his first employer.
"My very first job was as a janitor in the ninth grade in Alexandria, Va.," said O'Neill, who earned $1 an hour for a 44-hour week. "After one month I was fired because there were undisciplined animals in one of the buildings. In an apartment building (that he was responsible for cleaning) there was a dog that used to do his thing daily in the laundry area. I probably was not as committed to cleaning that up as quickly as I should have been."
>> Company: Pacific Century Financial Corp.
Michael E. O'Neill
>> Title: Chairman and chief executive officer
>> Age: 55
>> Past positions: Barclays Plc, CEO, 1999; Bank of America, vice chairman, chief financial officer, manager of global equity investments, 1994-1999; Continental Bank, chief financial officer, other positions, 1974-84 and 1989-94; independent banking consultant, 1985-88
>> Military service: Marine Corps, lieutenant, 1969-71
>> First job: Janitor (ninth grade)
>> Education: B.A., European civilization, Princeton University; MBA, Colgate Darden School, University of Virginia
>> Family: Wife, Trish; sons, Ted, 17, Pete, 13; dogs, Irish setters, Roger and Cory.
>> Born: Santa Monica, Calif.
>> Hobbies: Art, reading, classic cars, golf, watching sports