When we last saw Gregor Bailar, he was explaining how Nasdaq got back online within six days of the World Trade Center attacks. (See “How Nasdaq Bounced Back,” www.cio.com/printlinks.) What the 38-year-old former Nasdaq CIO couldn’t say then, however, was that on the morning of Sept. 11 he was deciding between buying a new home in New York City and accepting a job at Capital One in Falls Church, Va.
Bailar was tired of the commute from his home in suburban Washington, D.C., and Nasdaq needed a CIO who lived closer to the financial district. He had to make a decision. Then the towers fell.
“I think it was Thursday [Sept. 13] before I got back to Nigel [Morris, Capital One’s president and COO] to say, Hey, I can’t give you a word of whether I’m coming or not. I have to focus on Nasdaq,” says Bailar, who was at Nasdaq for four years.
In the end, he decided that Nasdaq would be just fine. “Nasdaq survived fabulously. It meant that I could move on,” he says.
As for his own new chapter, Bailar was astonished to find how much upheaval other companies were experiencing. When Bailar became executive vice president of operations and technology and CIO on Nov. 15, Capital One was still reeling from the anthrax scare on postal services. Credit card solicitations had been slowed down for a month and a half. The company compartmentalized employees who open the mail, so that one suspect envelope couldn’t shut down the whole operation. And employees had to freeze late fees for customers whose payments might be stuck in the mail system. Meanwhile, contingency planning had entered the boardroom.
“When I came here, we kind of woke up to the fact that, oh my God, this thing hit even more in some areas than I would have ever expected it to.”