Magazine article American Banker

OCC Chief of Staff Haunts the Halls as a High-Touch Regulator

Magazine article American Banker

OCC Chief of Staff Haunts the Halls as a High-Touch Regulator

Article excerpt


For a man who says, "The worst thing in the world for me would be if I were chained to a desk all day and couldn't leave -- I like to roam around," becoming a bank regulator seems an odd career choice.

Mark A. Nishan, chief of staff at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, has few open spaces to wander in the OCC's offices on E Street in southwest Washington. So he appeases his restlessness by roaming the building's hallways and offices, talking with employees and generally keeping a finger on the agency's pulse. "I think you find out a lot that way," he says.

Mr. Nishan's 21-year career at the OCC has been an extended ramble through the organization's different sections and departments. He joined the agency in 1978 as an intern fresh out of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management with a master's degree in finance. A little more than two years later he found himself on the OCC payroll as a project manager, responsible for assisting the Inspectors General's office and the General Accounting Office with their examinations of the agency.

In the intervening years, he has been the agency's director of planning and spent 10 years in Illinois, first as director of the Chicago field office and then as director for compliance and bank supervision in the district. Mr. Nishan returned to Washington in 1997 as deputy comptroller for continuing education.

The diversity of his experience within the agency, he says, has given him a strong understanding of its day-to-day functioning. In 1998, when former chief of staff Mark Jacobsen left the agency for Bankers Trust Co., then-acting Comptroller Julie L. Williams saw Mr. Nishan as his natural successor.

Comptroller John D. Hawke Jr. named Mr. Nishan permanent chief of staff three months ago. "Mark brings a variety of skills together with a tremendous depth of experience at the OCC. …

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