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Joseph Campano

Local Merrill Lynch director shows 'great leadership skills'

As director of six Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) offices in San Diego County, Joseph Campano is responsible for managing more than 200 employees for the firm, including 134 financial advisers with approximately $13 billion in assets under management.

A West Point graduate and former U.S. Army intelligence officer, Campano moved to San Diego in mid-2006 from Fort Lauderdale, where he was an associate director for Merrill. Since then revenues at the offices he manages have increased from $55 million to $90 million, according to Campano.

At Merrill's San Diego offices, Campano was tasked with bringing stability and community involvement to his position; there have been five directors in San Diego County in the past seven years, Campano said.

"He certainly understands the business and the people that he's leading," said Walter Burenin, director of Merrill's La Jolla office. "But beyond that he's got great leadership skills."

Campano wasted no time in getting involved in the community. He engaged Merrill locally in the San Diego Unified School District Principal for a Day Program, where he served as co-chair in 2007, helping recruit volunteers from the business community to serve as principle at various schools around the county on Oct. 19. Campano also joined the Chamber of Commerce, where he sits on the monthly CEO roundtable. In June he joined the board of the Economic Development Corporation.

"The biggest thing people realize is that I'm here to stay and I care not only about how well we do in business, but I care about the things that are important to them," Campano said.

One of his biggest challenges in San Diego has been trying to integrate the offices and create a universal culture. He started by throwing special holiday parties and implementing softball teams with the aim of getting employees at separate offices to get to know one another.

"Morale is as good as it's ever been," said Burenin, who has been with Merrill in San Diego for most of the past 26 years. "I would say a lot of that has to do with getting together more regularly and doing fun things as well as work things."

Much of Campano's leadership skills were developed during his 10-year service in the Army where, among other posts, he served as Company Commander of a 200-soldier Signals Intelligence Company in Berlin, Germany.

While in the Army, Campano also earned a master's degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Campano has worked at Merrill Lynch for 14 years; he was a financial adviser prior to taking a management role at the firm.

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