Vice president PNC Financial Corp., Philadelphia

Thomas Whitford took a detour en route to becoming product manager of trust and investment products at PNC Financial Corp.

Just a year after being named senior vice president of a PNC unit's trust operations in 1988, the then 32-year-old banker resigned to join the Peace Corps, serving as an accounting teacher in Kenya.

Mr. Whitford and his wife, Margaret Lehr, also a banker at the time, traded PCs for blackboards at a school that was hours away from the nearest town. But a disappointingly light teaching schedule and injuries Mr. Whitford suffered in a car accident prompted them to head home in 1990. "It was our one adventure," he says.

Mr. Whitford rejoined PNC in 1990, and was assigned to analyze the profitability of the bank's mutual fund businesses in Delaware and manage its institutional shareholder services group. Early last year, he was named product manager of a number of trust and investment businesses.

Today, Mr. Whitford directs product management in the employee benefits and mutual fund management businesses. He also oversees product management in the Florida trust, private banking, family wealth management, and corporate trust lines. The businesses under Mr. Whitford's wing generate more than $40 million in revenues annually.

A 1982 graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Whitford joined PNC in 1983.

In 1986 he revamped the marketing of PNC's personal trust businesses, refocusing the department on promising market segments. The reorganization expanded the bank's business with affluent individuals and residents of retirement communities.

In his current position, Mr. Whitford is targeting the employee benefits management business as a major source of growth. Employee benefits services include providing mutual funds and record-keeping services for 401(k) savings plans. The bank is setting its sights on its corporate customers to fuel the growth, says Mr. Whitford.

"We've had a lot of success in the past using our strength in the middle market," says Mr. Whitford. "We think 15% to 20% annual growth is possible there."

Does Mr. Whitford plan to stick with PNC now, or will lie get the itch for another overseas adventure?

"My plans are to continue to be here," he says firmly. "It may sound corny, but when I was away I realized what a solid and wonderful organization PNC is, and when I had the opportunity to rejoin it I was very happy."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.