Honig International in the News
December 7, 2002
Big opportunities await Lindsey, O'Neill
By Allan Drury

They may have been forced out of their last jobs, but Paul O'Neill and Lawrence Lindsey will have lucrative career opportunities thrust at them if they choose to return to the private sector, experts said.

O'Neill, a former chairman of Alcoa, and former Peekskill resident Lindsey, served on the White House economic team during a time of recession, a plummeting stock market and rising deficits.

Unemployment is up. Job creation is down. Bankruptcies are up. Consumer confidence is down.

None of that will matter, however, when O'Neill and Lindsey look to make their next million.

They'll be able to choose senior jobs in venture capital, investment banking, private money management and just about any other field that comes to mind, said Barry Honig, president of Honig International, a corporate executive search firm in Tenafly, N.J.

"These guys are going to have tremendous opportunities," Honig said. "They could be senior economic advisers at any investment bank, any hedge fund."

Offers for well-paying speaking engagements will pour in. Seats on corporate boards will beckon, another head hunter said.

"They'll be able to make a lot of money. They'll do quite well for themselves, if that's what they want to do," said Leonard Pfeiffer IV, president of Leonard Pfeiffer & Co. in Washington.

Few things can make a resume shine like a line about having held a cabinet position or other high-level federal government job. People who have worked close to a president always have valuable contacts both in the government and the corporate world.

"You're hiring a leader figure, but you're also hiring a great contact base," said Pfeiffer, who recruited Andrew Card to head the American Automobile Manufacturers Association after Card served as transportation secretary under former President George H.W. Bush. "An assistant secretary of commerce would get hired because of his contact base."

They're also people of great intellect and skill, or they wouldn't have been chosen to serve in the first place, Honig said.

"They were incredibly credentialed before they got there," Honig said. "They're even more credentialed after they leave."

O'Neill, a St. Louis native, was credited with turning around Alcoa, the world's biggest aluminum company before being tapped by Bush.

He began his career as a computer systems analyst with the Veterans Administration in 1961. He became deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget in Gerald Ford's administration in 1974. He joined International Paper Co., formerly of Purchase and now in Stamford, Conn., as a vice president in 1977 and became president in 1985.

Pfeiffer said he believes that if O'Neill had resigned a few weeks earlier, he could have been a strong candidate for chief executive officer of WorldCom, the telecommunications company that is trying to regain both its financial footing and its reputation.

Michael Capellas, the former president of Hewlett-Packard, was named WorldCom's chief executive last month.

Lindsey, a 1972 graduate of Lakeland High School in Shrub Oak, is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and professor at Harvard University.

Both men leave their jobs with their personal reputations unblemished, victims of the business cycle and President Bush's need to show leadership on the economy before the 2004 election, several economists said.

Though O'Neill's blunt style grated on Congress and the public, neither he nor Lindsey can reasonably be blamed for the nation's economic troubles, several economists said.

The meltdown in the technology sector, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and revelations of corporate misconduct were all developments that contributed to the recession.

"I don't think they deserve much of the blame at all," said Bruce Mason, an economist with Union State Bank in Orangeburg. "This is more about politics and posturing for re-election two years from now."

The White House is considering a new package of tax cuts to stimulate the economy and Bush realizes he needs to surround himself with advisers who have the public's confidence in order to sell the program, Mason said.

Honig noted that other treasury secretaries who served during hard economic times had great professional and financial success after leaving the office.

W. Michael Blumenthal, who served nearly three years under Jimmy Carter, became chairman and chief executive officer of the Burroughs Corp. shortly after resigning. When Burroughs and the Sperry Corp. merged into the Unisys Corp. in 1986, he became chairman and chief executive of that company, a post he held until his retirement in 1990.

Blumenthal, whose tenure as treasury secretary was marked by high oil prices, inflation and double-digit interest rates, was also a limited partner of Lazard Freres & Co., a private international investment bank, for four years after his retirement.

Nicholas F. Brady, secretary during the recession that cost the first President Bush a second term, became chairman of Darby Overseas Investments Ltd., which manages private investment funds, and Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust, posts he still holds.

Two men who served during the Clinton-era economic boom, Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers, have also parlayed their private-sector and Cabinet backgrounds into prestigious jobs. Rubin is chairman of Citigroup Inc.'s executive committee, a job that netted him $11 million in salary and bonuses last year.