A reader writes in with an opinion that seems to be shared by many at Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit:
"I think she was elevated because she was smart and [former Citigroup CEO Sanford I. Weill] looked to leverage that in the wake of Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, and the whole Jack Grubman affair (corporate governance failings that, as John Bogle says, NO ONE was researching). And after that she became a Woman on Wall Street story. But she had no business managing Merrill’s brokerage unit.
As a former Marine, I like to use military analogies—William Westmorland was an artillery officer who went to Harvard Business School before he attended the Army’s War College. He took an MBA in the early '50s in “quantitative management” that provided my generation with a “baseball-score war.” He was out of his depth. He was not a grunt, he wasn’t schooled in guerilla warfare, and, like many of his sycophants, attempted to fight that war from a chopper at 3,000 feet, a two-dimensional map is his lap, and an air-conditioned trailer with ice-cream and Tom Collins mix provided by the taxpayer.
Sallie—graduate of “The Porter School” (formerly Miss Porter’s), North Carolina at Chapel Hill scholarship winner and Columbia MBA, smart, attractive research analyst/manager and “ethics” reformer, from a boutique firm, is promoted beyond her skills to lead mismanaged, super-market dysfunction of serial acquirer Sandy Weill. She became the CFO of one of the most convoluted and least-understood banks as the financial crisis of ’08 was building. What was her value-add there? [Chief Executive Vikram Pandit] forced her out was the headline, but I believe he viewed her as over her head (she believes her own press).
She arrives at Merrill via the ouster of the “esteemed” John Thain by Ken Lewis in ’09. She’s put over Dan Sontag, a guy who came up via the FA system and who has (had) the respect of the thundering herd.
These guys were left asking, “WTF Ken?”
She has been elevated to lightening-rod since [former chief investment strategist Richard Bernstein]. She should really be an insurance or financial industry expert and talking-head on CNBC—like Dick Bove. She hasn’t got the operational leadership chops to lead the IT unit that manages Merrill’s Thundering Herd Desk-Top.
Would Ike have put a Company Commander in charge of the pivot to Bastogne? Hell no! He asked Patton to do it!
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