James Rohr / PNC Financial Services Group, Chairman

What drives you up the wall? "Occasionally I see people do things -- we all can think of our own examples -- in which they use no common sense. Common sense is important to success."

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One key to success for people rising up the ranks is to recognize that their role at the company will change over time, according to James Rohr, chairman of Pittsburgh's biggest bank, PNC Financial Services Group.

Mr. Rohr, 64, who last month retired as PNC's CEO after 13 years at the helm, said future leaders need to prepare for the transition from player to player-coach to coach.

Once people make it to the top, they spend all of their time managing other people, he said.

"Eventually, you realize that your own success is totally dependent on the success of the people you are responsible for," he said. "You have to be prepared for that transition."

Mr. Rohr should know.

The Cleveland native came to Pittsburgh in 1972 to join PNC's management training program, rising to CEO in 2000, a post he officially handed off to William Demchak at the bank's annual shareholders meeting April 23. He plans to stay on as executive chairman for one year.

Mr. Rohr said his biggest accomplishment has been overseeing PNC as it grew to become the ninth biggest bank in the nation based on assets -- four times larger than when he became chief executive.

He's also proud of successfully steering PNC through the financial crisis, and of the bank's "Grow Up Great" program launched nine years ago that aids development of at-risk preschoolers to prepare them for school through grants and programs.

Mr. Rohr said his biggest regret was having to slash PNC's quarterly dividend -- from 66 cents to 10 cents -- to preserve cash at the height of the financial crisis in early 2009.

"I know it was difficult for many of our shareholders," he said, "especially individuals whom I know depended on the dividend."


-- Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066


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