At 5 feet 6 inches tall and 52 years old, Ed Mulligan is not the most likely basketball player. But then, you might not expect someone without a college degree to have 1,600 people working under him at one of the most venerable banks in the country, The Bank of New York Mellon.
While the New York-based entity dates to the July 2007 merger of two leading wholesale banks, the original Bank of New York was established in 1764 by Alexander Hamilton. Today, The Bank of New York Mellon is the world's largest asset management and securities servicing firm, servicing more than $23 trillion in others' assets, as well as a top 10 U.S. wealth manager with $205 billion in assets of its own.
Mulligan has been with the bank for 20 years, two in his current role as EVP, heading the global technology services group. He was nominated for Banking's Elite 8 2008 as a paragon of "outperformance," a trait that is evident upon meeting him.
Mulligan still plays organized basketball, as he did for New York's Regis High School. "I played basketball in New York City," Mulligan says, with a pride that connotes that his mettle has been proven on the toughest of testing grounds.
"You had to be in the top 1 percent" graduating from grade school in order to be accepted into Regis High, Mulligan adds, noting that from his class, "only 96 of 120 graduated."
It's not surprising that a man who remembers such statistics from decades ago and talks of his work as "all part of a process of continuous improvement," is also credited with instituting a measurement-based approach to technology.
According to Mulligan, two forces in particular have shaped his technology organization over the past decade: corporate acquisitions and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, which blew in the windows of his office.
Bank of New York acquired the discount brokerage Pershing in 2003 and Mellon Financial Corp., the Pittsburgh-based wholesale bank, in July 2007. All of these events highlighted vulnerabilities and incompatibilities in the bank's technology that Mulligan addressed as he rebuilt and streamlined the firm's data centers. In fact the bank is scheduled to open in October its biggest data center yet -- one that will add, over the next nine months, all of Mellon's mainframe applications to Bank of New York's previous assets, Mulligan reports.
In reenvisioning the data centers, Mulligan began leveraging in fall 2003 the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a methodology popular in the U.K. but not in the U.S. The library, Mulligan explains, might somewhat simplistically be described as a compendium of best practices. "It involves having a common language across all the varied lines of business and a common process," he says. It makes, for example, for better incident management, allowing one to more quickly establish what went wrong and to more readily ensure that it won't happen again in the future.
Mulligan points out that Bank of New York set out to overhaul its infrastructure before the acquisitions of Pershing and Mellon. "Following the events of 9/11 we very much improved large parts of our infrastructure," he relates, explaining that regulators deemed the bank "one of the critical parts of the U.S. infrastructure."
Consequently, Mulligan says, "We decided to put at least 800 miles between our data centers. The first thing we had to do was establish a new disaster recovery site," something accomplished in less than a year.