Michael J. O’Hanlon ’77, currently a senior advisor with Sixth Street Partners in New York City, is also a part-time senior advisor for TPG Capital (New York City), as well as the chair of the board for Roosevelt Management Company (New York City) and Rushmore Loan Management Services LLC (Irvine, California). He also serves on the boards of the Northview Group (London, England) and Union Bank of Colombo (Colombo, Sri Lanka). He met his wife, Catherine (Alessi) O’Hanlon ‘76, at Saint Rose.
What is your typical day like?
Post COVID-19, there has been a lot of time focusing on corporate special projects/issues/initiatives. The day is spent in front of my computer on video or audio conference calls. I attend two or three board meetings per week, including committees. The workload has been greater because the companies that I work with require more attention due to the effects of COVID-19.
I tend to concentrate on strategy, management development, accounting, and compliance. During COVID-19, there have been so many micro-crises: making sure that employees are well cared for, ensuring good customer service, and managing liquidity. These issues are common to most businesses.
Pre COVID-19, I was doing a lot of travel, but I don’t expect that to resume until March or April of 2021.
How did you find your career path?
When I was a student at Saint Rose, I didn’t know what I wanted to do – it wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I knew that I wanted to focus on investment banking. Saint Rose gave me a lot of the background I needed, but I also knew then that I needed more time and work to figure out where I was headed.
As a freshman, I didn’t even know I wanted to go into business. I had several majors at Saint Rose. I started out in mathematics and the sciences. I took some computer science courses and got very involved in the debate club and competitive public speaking.
While I was at business school at the University at Albany (1977-1979), I worked on a mortgage finance project which led me to Wall Street. I started out doing mortgage finance for municipalities at EF Hutton, which was eventually folded into Lehman Brothers. I held many positions at Lehman: head of mortgage finance, then head of global financial services investment banking, and I ended my 25-year career with Lehman in Japan, where I headed various parts of the Asian investment banking organization.
After Lehman, in 2005, I spent a couple of years with an alternative asset manager but then went on to TPG Capital/Sixth Street, where I’ve been for the last 11 years. Sixth Street spun out from TPG earlier this year.
My passion is restructuring financial institutions, which I’ve done in many countries.
How has your Saint Rose experience helped you?
A couple of things that made a difference: I got into the debate club and competitive speaking with Sister Bernarda, and I benefited from Sister Marguerite Donovan’s business writing class.
Debate is all about thinking on your feet, as is extemporaneous public speaking. Those are helpful to give you confidence when you’re presenting.
My careers have required a higher quality standard than many professions – is your solution good enough, or is it great? Financial institutions and their clients have little patience for mistakes when you’re handling other people’s money.
Another thing, which surprises some people to hear, is that I got into computer science at Saint Rose. When I started business school at the University at Albany in 1977, I was one of the few people who could do more advanced analytics on the computer. Now, quantitative analysis is a major in Saint Rose’s business school. Computer science gave me a leg up. I still have a box of Saint Rose computer punch cards that are 45 years old!
What fond memories do you have of Saint Rose?
I enrolled at Saint Rose because, as a Schenectady native, I had been looking at colleges mostly in the Northeast. I looked at SUNY Albany, Geneseo, and other schools that had programs I liked. But at the end of the day, I liked the people at Saint Rose. It was not a very sophisticated analysis, but it was the right choice.
I met my wife, Catherine, at Saint Rose. We got married before we even graduated. We didn’t have kids for six years after graduation (in case anyone asks, LOL). I will say we were very young, and maybe not that wise, but we’ve been married now for 45 great years. We have three children and three grandchildren.
What do you do for fun?
After moving to Manhattan six years ago, I’ve taken up bike riding. There are many bike routes: the path along the west side that runs from the Battery to beyond the George Washington Bridge, Central Park’s loop, Roosevelt Island, and so forth. The streets of Manhattan, though, are too dangerous.
We also like to go to the beach in the summers. And, though it may be hard to believe, I still like playing computer games.
For me, work is fun. I enjoy the interaction and the intellectual challenge. I know that it’s trite, but it’s the satisfaction that goes with making things better.
Why should alums engage with their alma mater?
Saint Rose is a great institution that helps students evolve, and that is critical.
Like most middle-sized colleges, Saint Rose can use your support – especially with COVID-19, things are getting more complex and difficult.
There are many ways to help. There’s financial support, of course, but there are many other ways that people support the College and its students, such as finding internships or full-time jobs, providing advice to the School of Business via the Huether School of Business Advisory Council, being a guest speaker, or being available to mentor students.
I’m a Trustee and the Chair of the Heuther School of Business Advisory Council. It feels good to help.