Oct. 7, 1951, Roanoke, Ala. Grew up in nearby Wedowee, where his parents still live. His mother gave birth in neighboring town because hospitals in Wedowee refused to treat African Americans.
BS, industrial administration, Kettering Institute, 1974; MBA, Harvard University, 1978.
President, Merrill Lynch, since July.
Worked part-time on a General Motors assembly line in Doraville, Ga., while attending Kettering, a GM-run college.
Joined GM's Treasury Office in 1978. Went to Merrill as an investment banker in 1986. Promoted to CFO in 1998.
WHY HE JOINED MERRILL LYNCH
"I thought investment bankers were smart. But I didn't think they were five times smarter than me, which is about what they were making."
BEST ADVICE FROM FATHER
Go to college. Forget being a writer. Pursue a more practical job.
Board member of Ronald McDonald House since 1998 and GM since August, 2001.
WAY AFTER HOURS
Impersonates famous people and colleagues--to their faces. "You need to be very serious about your purpose and what it is you're doing, but if you can't find things to laugh at and people to laugh with, it would strike me as a terrible existence."
THE LAST THING HE NEEDS
"I don't want people trying to figure out what I think. If someone says something just because they think I want to hear it, I'll shut down."
Married to Nancy Garvey, an economist who worked with him in GM's treasury office. She now cares for their 10-year-old twins, a son and a daughter.