Thrift regulator Diana Garmus sees some definite similarities between working her way through mountains of applications and climbing 20,320 feet to the top of Alaska's Mr. McKinley.
"Mountain climbing and working in D.C. can both be incredibly difficult," said the Office of Thrift Supervision's deputy assistant director for corporate activities, whose attempt to scale the famous mountain peak last month was halted midway by a weeklong snowstorm.
"But with mountain climbing, you don't have to go through all the bureaucracy, which can be a real advantage when you're trying to get somewhere."
Ms. Garmus, one of a handful of close advisers to OTS acting director Jonathan Fiechter, manages the office that handles the paperwork involved when mutual thrifts apply for conversion to stock ownership.
Her office also has an extensive large information services division that provides "massive amounts of information" on corporate histories. Ms. Garmus herself spends most of her time on applications.
"I'm pretty hands-on relative to troubled thrifts," Ms. Garmus said. "We've got a lot of conservatorships that the RTC is selling off, and that takes up a lot of time. I deal with other types of applications as well. I've got one sitting on my desk right now where a thrift institution is acquiring a bank."
Ms. Garmus oversees a staff of application analysts who examine business plans and plans of conversion. She also manages an accounting group that examines securities filings.
Receiving a certificate of appreciation from her staff ranks as one of Ms. Garmus' proudest moments, especially after a few initial run-ins with some employees who "didn't put out as much as they could put out" when she first arrived at the office.
"I figured that if I'm working here 12 hours a day, at least during the eight they put in here they better be doing something," Ms. Garmus said, laughing. "So there were a few rocky roads when I first got here, but it turned out that, gee, they like me. You don't get too much positive feedback because everyone is so busy here."
Ms. Garmus holds bachelor's and master's degrees in political science, from UCLA and the Morterey Institute of International Studies, respectively. She got to know Mr. Fiechter while working as his executive assistant from 1989 to 1991.
Deputy assistant director for corporate activities
Office of Thrift Supervision
1700 G St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20552