Consumer >> CEO Interviews >> July 12, 1999

Norman P. Blake Jr. – Promus Hotel Corporation (prh)

NORMAN P. BLAKE, JR. is the President and CEO of Promus Hotel Corporation. Born in New York City, Mr. Blake spent part of his childhood in England and Lebanon before his family settled in Connecticut. He graduated from Purdue University, Indiana in 1966 with a Master of Arts. Mr. Blake's career began at General Electric in 1967, where he held various positions in planning, marketing and information systems. In 1974 he joined Top, Inc., a financial services company serving the credit union industry as Executive Vice President and in 1975 became President of the company. He returned to GE in 1976 for successful management roles in business development and strategic planning for the plastics sector and consumer products division. In 1979, Mr. Blake was appointed Vice President and General Manager, Commercial and Industrial Financing Division of GE Credit Corporation, and from 1981 to 1984 was Executive Vice President of Financing Operations. In this role, he had responsibility for all the major operating components comprising a $13 billion asset portfolio. He was also responsible for investment banking operations. Mr. Blake was Chairman and CEO of Chicago based Heller International Corporation from 1984 until 1990, during which time the company realized a 38 percent compounded growth in earnings. Most recently, he led an eight-year turnaround for Baltimore-based insurer USF&G as its Chairman, President and CEO. When he was appointed in late 1990, the company was near financial failure with losses totaling $569 million. Mr. Blake guided USF&G through a seven-year staged development process to 'fix the foundation,' 'build with vision' and 'leverage leadership.' Cumulative shareholder return over the 1991-97 period was 228 percent, market value added improved $952 million and market capitalization grew 320 percent. In early 1998, the company merged with the St. Paul Companies in a transaction valued at $3.5 billion. Currently, Mr. Blake is a Director of the St. Paul Companies as well as Enron Corporation and Owens Corning. Other part-time roles have included chairing a Baltimore taskforce for Business and Education Serving Together (BEST), and working with the University of Maryland and Baltimore County to improve students' job skills. In 1995, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Purdue. Mr. Blake and his wife have raised three children, who have now all left the family home. Profile
TWST: We would like to get a bit of a background summary to start. Give

us a bit of a profile on Promus, enough to put us into context, and then

also tell us what you see as your business, and