Christopher M. Condron is somewhat of an anomaly in the banking industry: a top executive with little experience in traditional banking.
Known to many by his nickname, Kip, the 51-year-old Mr. Condron spent most of his career in personal asset management and investment planning. He was head of the private-client group at the Boston Co. when Mellon Bank Corp. bought it in 1993, and he took over as chief executive of Mellon's mutual fund unit, the Dreyfus Corp., in 1995.
Mr. Condron became president and chief operating officer of the parent company Jan. 1, making him the No. 2 executive at Mellon. He lives in New York but splits his workweek among New York, Boston, and Pittsburgh.
Mr. Condron's background stands in clear contrast to that of chief executive officer Martin G. McGuinn, a lawyer who rose to the top of Mellon through commercial and consumer banking posts.
Mr. Condron was in competition with Mr. McGuinn and Steven Elliott, the chief financial officer, to become chairman and CEO of the holding company. Some observers questioned whether Mr. Condron would stick around after losing out for the top spot. But Mr. Condron says he is content.
"I never said I wanted to be the chairman of Mellon Bank," he said. "I'm delighted to be the president, I live in New York, I'm a very happy camper."
Mr. Condron says his background serves him well at Mellon.
"I come from a different place," he says. "I came up through the asset management and financial planning side, and actually it's a very good fit because our business is so heavily focused in those areas."
He added: "Having me as president of this company makes a statement about who we really are and what our focus is in the marketplace."
In running a large asset management business out of a bank, Mr. Condron said, the most important element is creating an entrepreneurial spirit.
"Keeping that culture alive, keeping that feeling of independence and autonomy, and getting the benefits of the entrepreneurial spirit are part of what we've learned how to foster," he said.
Other banking companies, he said, have had difficulty integrating investment firms into their mix because the banks sometimes stifle the culture of those firms.
"What you're really buying are the people, and their skills and their ability to generate the kinds of returns they returned in their particular businesses," Mr. Condron said.
"You want to foster that. You don't want to destroy that," he said. "So the trick is to figure out how to continue the culture that has allowed that to be successful enough that you wanted to buy it in the first place."