Thomas F. Hyland Jr. says he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

That's how the newly appointed head of funds transfer and trade services for Chemical Banking Corp. in New York describes his success moving up the ranks in international operations at Chemical without the benefit of formal training in business or technology.

Mr. Hyland's most recent job, before the new appointment, was a 12-year stint in the coveted position of head of operations in London for Chemical, and for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. before the merger of the two banks in 1991.

Now, Mr. Hyland, 45, says he is glad to be returning home to his native New York, and says he plans to move back to Long Island, where he grew up.

Less Harried Lifestyle

"London is a lot less intense than New York, and there are pros and cons to that," he says.

"But I'm coming back at a time when the merger issues are behind us. What's resulted in funds transfer and trade services is a very good product."

Mr. Hyland is returning to the United States to take over the position vacated by Yawar Shah last month. Mr. Shah was promoted to the new post of chief administrative officer.

Mr. Hyland says that he has wanted to return to New York several times over the past few years, but that each time a new project made him want to stay in London, where he headed an operations staff of about 650.

The merger of Manufacturers Hanover and Chemical meant overseeing the consolidation of five centers to two - which is saving the bank $5 million a year - and a move to a new headquarters that proved to be more complicated than expected.

"The merger was very intense," he says. "But I was lucky. I was able to put together a good mix of people from the two predecessor banks."

In March 1993, Chemical finished the last big piece of its systems consolidation.

But the toughest challenge over the past few years was Chemical's move to new headquarters, Mr. Hyland says. The bank intended to move to a new office complex at Canary Wharf, and had nearly finished designing and building the office space, when the deevelopers, Olympia & York, went bankrupt.

Time to Go Home

"That put the scarlet letter on Canary Wharf, and we had to scramble to find new headquarters for the bank," he says. Within 18 months, he'd helped find the bank's new offices, and supervised the move of about 900 people from Chemical's and Hanover's old headquarters.

With the systems consolidation completed, Mr. Hyland says he finally was ready to come home.

"After having managed the merger, I think my job here is done," he says.

Mr. Hyland is down to earth, and even self-deprecating when he talks about his family's experience living overseas. "It sounds like the snob factor, when I talk about what a great opportunity this has been," he says.

He and his wife, Pat, and two sons have traveled extensively in Asia, particularly Thailand.

It's just been easier for us to fly to Thailand from London than to go to the Caribbean."

Mr. Hyland was graduated from Marist College, a small liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he majored in history and political science with an eye to attending law school. In 1971, his senior year in college, he was drafted, so he shelved plans for law school.

Job at Hanover

But a bad car accident that summer kept him out of the Army. While he recovered, Mr. Hyland began to work at Manufacturers Hanover's in a management training program in funds transfer, part of the international operations area. While working, he earned a certificate in systems analysis from New York University.

In 1975 he helped develop Hanover's first automated interfaces to Chips, the Clearing House Interbank Payments System, and he oversaw the development of an automated funds transfer system that was installed in Hong Kong, Bahrain, London, and Singapore.

Links to Swift Were Lacking

"The money-center banks at that time were trying to automate the transfer of U.S. dollars, but they lacked the interfaces to Swift," which at that time consisted of telex messages and payments sent by mail, he says.

In 1981, Mr. Hyland moved to London, where he oversaw operations at a time when Hanover was still expanding overseas.

Mr. Hyland says that this is a good time to move back to New York.

"Chemical is now the leader of the pack in funds transfer," he says. "I have some ideas on how we can capitalize on that."

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