career banker who began his move up the corporate ladder at the old Manufacturers Hanover, Don Layton is now vice chairman of The Chase Manhattan Bank, one of the largest banks in the world. He has run the capital markets and trading operations for more than a decade, recently took on supervision of its operating services divisions, and is also general manager of Chase's overseas network.
As the banking world has evolved over the last several decades, Layton says he has benefited from having both a Harvard MBA and the more quantitative education he gained while earning bachelor's and master's degrees in economics at MIT. "In banking, having a foot in both the quantitative and qualitative worlds of education has been a great advantage," he notes, "especially as technology and quantitative disciplines have become so important in finance."
After sixteen years as a "classic, two-career, childless Manhattan couple," Layton and his wife, Sandy, welcomed their first son into their lives in 1990. Their second son was born in 1994. "There is an old joke that there are two ways to have kids," he laughs. "You can have them when you're young and have plenty of energy but no money, or you can have them later when you have money but not much energy - but wait, you can then afford to hire people with energy! More seriously, we're trying hard to be hands-on parents, despite the difficulties of my business schedule and our middle-aged lack of energy. It's very rewarding."
What is the most important thing you've learned about business since leaving HBS?
Simple - people. As you rise, you have to motivate individuals, you have to motivate groups, you have to get them to want to work together. People skills make all the difference at senior levels.
How have your priorities changed since 1974?
After graduating from HBS, I embarked upon a very career-centric existence, and I have to admit that it has paid off. But since having children, my life is more balanced - you realize what is really important in this life, and it certainly isn't the latest budget meeting! I'm now a balanced career and family executive.
From my earliest days at ManHan, I had a strong senior mentor who helped make sure that I was getting the right kind of professional assignments. Unfortunately, with the tough times for New York banking beginning more than a decade ago - with all the layoffs and mergers - this kind of mentoring stopped happening. I was very fortunate to have had it.
How would you describe the value of Internet stocks today?
Clearly a bubble, but bubbles have been known to last a long time.
If you hadn't pursued a career in management, what might you have done instead?
I probably would have been an economics professor. I faced this decision during my days as a student at MIT and chose business instead. But I had a clear second choice all ready to go.
What is the best business advice you've ever received?
A business friend of my father's told me that the best possible training for business was to get an undergraduate education at a topnotch science/engineering school such as MIT and then go on to the more qualitative education at HBS. He was absolutely right, and this is, of course, what I did.
What is your outlook for the stock market over the next five years?
I'm modestly bullish. I'm not a crash-theorist. But Internet stocks very definitely make me nervous.
How would you rate your personal computing skills?
I learned how to program computers when I was sixteen (which was almost unheard of back then), worked one summer during college programming both second- and third-generation languages, and took several computer courses at MIT. I haven't been involved to that extent in a long, long time, but this background makes me very comfortable with computer technology. For a senior executive, I'm considered pretty knowledgeable and have a reputation in particular as being an e-mail enthusiast.
|Kevin W. Kennedy||Stephen M. Waters||James A. Stern||William J. Kneisel||Donald H. Layton|