Case | HBS Case Collection | August 2004 (Revised September 2005)

Stanley O'Neal at Merrill Lynch (A)

by David A. Thomas and Ayesha Kanji


In the late 1970s, Stanley O'Neal joined Merrill Lynch as an investment banker. Profiles O'Neal's ascent at Merrill to CEO. O'Neal put Merrill through a comprehensive restructuring program, cutting costs and significantly reducing the work force. As CEO, O'Neal faces the challenge of changing the company's signature "Mother Merrill" culture into a performance-driven and meritocratic one, while facing resistance and criticism from inside Merrill and Wall Street. Provides data on Merrill's financial performance and investment banking ratings. Teaching Purpose: To demonstrate leadership at the executive level, highlighting the career development of a person of color. Also, to focus on changing corporate culture and CEO succession.

Keywords: Restructuring; Race; Cost Management; Investment Banking; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Leadership; Management Succession; Performance Effectiveness; Personal Development and Career;


Thomas, David A., and Ayesha Kanji. "Stanley O'Neal at Merrill Lynch (A)." Harvard Business School Case 405-029, August 2004. (Revised September 2005.)