Doug Petno ’89S (MBA)CEO of Commercial Banking, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Simon School Distinguished Alumnus, 2013
When Doug Petno earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Wabash College in Indiana, he already knew he wanted to make his way to the Financial District of New York City. He also knew that coming from a small men’s school, he needed a degree that could get him there. That is when he started looking at Simon.
“At the time, William Simon had just put his name on the business school,” Petno says. “I flew out with my dad and we liked what we saw. The smaller size appealed to me, and the School was growing. It was open to students without work experience, so it looked like the perfect fit.”
When Petno graduated from Simon, he immediately put his degree to good use and joined JPMorgan Chase, where he has spent more than 20 years. Petno began in investment banking for energy industries and progressively moved up the ranks into executive positions at the firm. He eventually became global head of the Natural Resources Investment Banking Group, where he participated in some of the largest transactions in the energy industry. In 2012, Petno was named CEO of Commercial Banking, one of four primary lines of business at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“In Commercial Banking, we serve midsize and large firms, anywhere from $15M to $2B in revenues,” Petno says. “We work with domestic companies but will help them if they expand into global markets.” He says he was fortunate to be well positioned with JPMorgan Chase after the 2008 financial crisis, a time when he says the firm was moving people around and going deeper into its bench for expertise and talent.
Petno’s recipe for success is simple: hard work, patience, and taking a long-term view. “We’ve been through five bank mergers in my time here, and during each one, we had to ride out the low points,” he says. “Consolidation is very disruptive, but eventually it leads to opportunity, and we’ve ended up stronger as a result.”
Petno says he was also blessed with some great mentors along the way, people who knew he was dedicated and worked hard and who brought him along as they moved up in the company. “A heads-down attitude and a dedication to getting the job done can take you far in this industry,” he notes.
Petno says two of his favorite Simon professors were Cliff Smith and Cliff Holderness. “Smith had a knack for making the complex easy to understand,” he says. “I really thrived in Simon’s learning environment. Engaging with more experienced and international students when we worked on team projects was a great learning opportunity.”
As he makes judgments today at JPMorgan Chase, Petno says he still employs the core principles he learned at Simon, namely basic economics, free-market theories, and an analytical approach to decision making. “I’m encouraged to see the New York City-based graduate programs in Finance and Management getting off the ground,” he says. “Having a New York City presence will help raise the visibility of the School even more.”
During his off-hours, Petno says he enjoys family time with his four children and fitting in a little running. He recently read The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen, a book that discusses the concept of disruptive technologies. “I was intrigued with the idea that listening to what our customers want does not drive breakthrough technologies,” he says. “According to this author, up-and-coming companies are looking to give people products they didn’t even know they wanted, much along the lines of products like the iPad.”