22 Jan 2019
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Remembering Walter Shipley

On the passing of former CEO and chairman of Chase

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Photo by Jeff Christensen/Reuters

Walter Shipley (AMP 73, 1976), the former chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank and Chemical Bank, died on January 11, 2019, at the age of 83, prompting a flood of fond remembrances in the media. Over his 40-year tenure, Shipley is credited with creating the largest bank in the US and laying the foundation for one of the biggest financial institutions in the world with JPMorgan Chase, an acquisition that took place shortly after Shipley’s retirement in 1999.

The Financial Times writes:

Mr. Shipley’s deep sense of collegiality is cited as one of the main reasons he was able to spearhead a string of successful mergers, including the 1987 Chemical/Texas Commerce Bank deal; the 1991 Chemical/Manufacturers Hanover deal; and the 1995 $10bn deal with Chase, which included the sacrifice of Chemical’s name, even though it was the bigger entity, and named Mr. Shipley and Chase president Thomas Labrecque as “totally equal partners”. “Some people's philosophy is I win, you lose,” Mr. Shipley said in a 1999 interview, “Our philosophy is that the best is when both sides feel they've come out winners.”

That sense of collegiality was a hallmark of his leadership, and Shipley is remembered for endorsing employee well-being and diversity long before those topics became fashionable. Beginning in 1996, the Financial Times reports, he asked business units to submit plans on diversity, including the advancement of women.

When JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon (MBA 1982) announced Mr. Shipley’s death in an email to staff, he celebrated “the open entrepreneurial meritocracy” that Shipley established, “which carries through to this day.”

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