Biography for Paul O'Neal, former chairman of Alcoa and treasury secretary during the Bush administration.

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Paul O'Neal

Former Chairman and CEO, Alcoa Inc

Paul O'Neill was chairman and CEO of Alcoa from 1987 to 1999, and retired as chairman at the end of 2000. Prior to joining Alcoa, O'Neill was President of International Paper Company from 1985 to 1987, where he was vice president from 1977 to 1985. Mr. O'Neill was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, on December 4, 1935. He received a bachelor's degree in Economics from Fresno State College in California, and a master's degree in Public Administration from Indiana University. Mr. O'Neill and his wife Nancy live in Pittsburgh where they have four children and 12 grandchildren.

Mr. O'Neill's greatest achievement for Alcoa was to transform an old and bureaucratic organization into a new business-unit driven corporation with over 140,000 employees spread across 36 nations.

In June, 1987 when Mr. O'Neill arrived in Alcoa he warned the existing managers that they would be judged by how well they met his numbers, however he did not set the organization's goals by the criteria that CEO's traditionally use, such as profit margins, sales growth rates or share appreciation.

Mr. O'Neill's goal was to eliminate time lost to employees injuries, therefore making Alcoa the safest company in the world.

Alcoa's rates of time lost due to employee's injuries was already below the nation's average, however this new emphasis on safety changed Alcoa's culture forever: Managers and line employees participated shoulder to shoulder in creating and implementing programs to make their workplace safer and more ergonomic, strategies were developed to train the work force in better, more efficient ways to perform their daily duties and as a result productivity began rising and job related injuries dropped considerably.

Within a few years, Mr. O'Neill's commitment to safety won over labor unions, forced managers to measure up and...