Both sides of my family are from Texas, but my parents, my siblings and I moved to Washington. D.C. when my father got a job at the National Institute of Health. My first real job was in high school working at a consortium. Small business owners contacted the consortium for interns. I got to [run the office of] a small temp agency whose staff was always out drumming up business. I also got to take classes they gave in finance, accounting and marketing. I loved math and computers and was good at anything that involved talking. I attended the University of Virginia and had a joint major in business and finance. For my internship at Riggs Bank in D.C. I worked in information technology and wrote macros for the International Bank. Two things scared me. First, people who had been there 20 years said they wish they were doing what I was, and second, the technology department was in the basement. That's when I switched from IT to finance.

I joined Merrill Lynch in 1987 in the municipal bond department just before Black Monday that October. There was not a lot to do when that occurred. I asked a banker in the department (a financial modeling expert) to give me a project, something I could learn. He had me work on financial models and then build them from scratch. When the market came back, the bankers were looking for people for their largest clients. My mentor said he had trained me, and I was given a large client. It taught me that if you learn your craft and do more than expected, you'll benefit.

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