This is the mother ship, or at least that’s what I’ve always called the world headquarters of Morgan Stanley located in New York City’s Times Square. It was here that a significant moment in Wall Street history occurred on June 30, 2005. John Mack had been reinstated as Chairman and CEO by the firm’s board. On that day, when Mack and his wife Christy appeared at a meeting with hundreds of Morgan Stanley employees, they gave him a standing ovation. They knew this was an inflection point in the storied firm’s history. The man standing before them embodied their collective hopes that the firm would return to its former self by restoring a culture that was its greatest asset and the primary source of its competitive advantage.
Mack’s departure in early 2001 had come about as a result of Morgan Stanley’s merger with Dean Witter in 1997. Phil Purcell, Dean Witter’s CEO, became CEO of the combined firm and eventually pushed Mack out. Morgan Stanley’s reputation and culture suffered as a result of Purcell’s leadership style. I experienced the culture change first-hand. The book Blue Blood and Mutiny: The Fight for the Soul of Morgan Stanley describes this period in great detail and Joe Nocera of The New York Times wrote an excellent article about it entitled “In Business, Tough Bosses Are the Ones Who Finish Last.” Thanks to the vocal opposition to Purcell put up by former and current employees of Morgan Stanley, he was thrown out. Read more »