Monday, Dec. 03, 2001

Stanley O'Neal

Merrill Lynch President

He grew up poor in rural Alabama. Now he is president of Merrill Lynch and within three years is expected to become the first African-American CEO of a major Wall Street firm. O'Neal, 50, is already leading a culture change at Merrill by putting profits ahead of old relationships. He has scaled back in Japan (a move others have copied) and is shifting brokers' focus from Main Street to clients with at least $1 million to invest.