In Memoriam: Ken White, 69
Served Chase Globally, Settled in Bangkok
Ken White, who served Chase in several overseas assignments over a 23-year career, died in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 29, 2015. He was 69 years old and had been admitted to the hospital on October 31 with a brain bleed.
His son Travis sent the following obituary:
Kenneth Lee White, was born to Thomas Lee and Ruth Evelyn Nelson Zwicky White in San Francisco in 1946. Until the age of 9, Ken lived overseas in posts throughout South America and the South Pacific. The Whites returned to California in 1955, and Ken attended the Menlo School in Palo Alto. As a student at the University of Puget Sound, Ken became the president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity. He spent his senior year abroad at Nyenrode Business Universiteit in Holland and returned to complete his MBA degree at University of Puget Sound where he met his wife, Ann, to whom he was married for 45 years.
He attended The American Management Association training program in Saranac Lake, NY, prior to being recruited by David Rockefeller into the management fast-track program at Chase Manhattan Bank. In the 23 years with Chase Manhattan Bank as a mobile overseas professional, Ken learned the inner workings of the banks and banking systems; he became a trouble shooter - fixing problems and then moving on to the next. He rose quickly through the ranks and traveled around the world with his family, Ann, Monique and Travis, to assignments in the Caribbean, Panama, Pakistan and finally, Thailand, in 1986.
Ken left his position as Chase's Senior Vice President of SE Asia in 1992 and started Pacific Siam Strategic Consulting Co. He worked with Finansa Credit as Managing Director from 2001; He worked at BFIT for two years. He served on the American Chamber’s Board of Governors for a total of eight years between 1988 and 2011 and as a committee leader and Board liaison for the Business Economics and Tax committees. Ken worked with the Thai Institute of Directors for many years as a fellow member, a director and as an instructor. He sat on the boards of Minor International, Clipper, Goodyear and Finansa. Ken also did extensive consulting work for IHL- Indochina Healthcare Ltd; Transpo-Asian Tigers and RMA.
His career constantly evolved; beginning with a financial background, his attention shifted to promoting corporate governance and transparency in Thailand. The latest chapter recognized the importance of working with individuals on a one-on-one basis. He began coaching and mentoring young, entrepreneurial professionals to help them better navigate their own careers, giving them tools and guidance that he felt would make a real and lasting difference to their professional and personal lives. Between his consulting work, board seats, mentoring, coaching and being sought out by many for advice, Ken was a friend and confidant to many and was always willing to offer wise counsel to those who asked for it.
Ken was a common sight on the fairways of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. He had an arsenal of corny jokes. He was kind and always reached out to help others. He loved history and reading and his National Geographic collection went back to 1970. He loved his family and worked hard to take care of them. He was a “third-culture kid” before the term existed. He was a product and a champion of globalization. Arriving in Thailand in 1986, he made Bangkok his home and permanent residence, providing for the first time in his nomadic life, a place he could really call home.
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From Roger Griffin: Ken inherited me as a boss when he ran the bank’s business in Pakistan when I moved into the regional office in Hong Kong from Seoul. Previously he had been in the Caribbean, St.Thomas I think, and I marveled at how he and Annie had adapted to the difference. During that time – one of relative stability for that country – apart from running the business very well and developing many ideas for generating additional revenue without country risk he hosted a Bill Butcher visit during which we were introduced to some of the wilder parts and wilder people of the North West Frontier. I won’t forget a visit to a small arms factory in a no-go area running off knock-off Kalashnikovs. WCB was particularly fascinated by a gun disguised as a pen – very James Bond – and perhaps a management tool! He was also in post during the Air India hijacking of a flight out of Mumbai on which our colleague Sudheer Desai’s son was a passenger. Throughout all of this Ken displayed his usual coolness in a crisis. He was analytic and measured in his judgements, a man of great personal integrity and a very good leader who generated a lot of respect.
Our time in our respective harnesses didn’t last long. I moved to New Yok in a new capacity and Ken moved to Thailand where all the attributes I’ve described would be equally valuable. Ken decided to stay in Bangkok and built a substantial reputation as a consultant, as a manager of financial institutions, as a board member of several substantial companies and as a member of the Thai community. He was definitely a go-to guy and, of course, an avid golfer.
I count myself lucky that our friendship continued post Chase and I would see him and Annie whenever I was in Thailand and when I lived there for a year before moving out of Asia. He was always helpful, always generous and always had a good story of the latest happenings not seen on the front pages. I shall miss him and my deepest sympathies go to Annie, Monique and Travis.
From Ulises Giberga: I first met Ken around 1970, shortly after he and Annie had married, when Chase was implementing a Caribbean branch expansion that I was very involved with, following the success of our branches in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In his mid-20s, Ken impressed everyone with his dedication to work and his easy-going personality. He was intelligent, charming, funny —always willing to do whatever the bank needed, and to relocate, again, wherever the bank wanted to send him. Montserrat, Tortola, Guadeloupe, St. Thomas, Miami—he and Annie were always the most amenable, flexible, and unselfish couple. They made many friends wherever they settled. Trained in operations and later in credit, Ken became an invaluable resource to those of us who ran the Caribbean branch system separately from the Puerto Rico branches.
Ken continued his career in Asia, where he was equally successful as a Chase Senior Vice President, and in private business in Thailand in 1992 when he left Chase. Although my wife and I didn’t get to see Ken and Annie often, we kept in touch and thoroughly enjoyed their Christmas letters: always fun finding out about their latest activities. Ken’s death at such an early age was a deep shock to all his family and friends. You can be sure that he will be very much missed.
From Barent Springsted: It was with a feeling of deep personal loss that I read the news of the passing of Ken. Our work relationship and friendship spanned some 25 years, beginning with working with him at the Chase Manhattan Bank branch in Bangkok. In 1988 I joined Chase and worked with Ken for four years. He was an intelligent and personable man who had the respect of all the bank branch staff members. My three years with Ken at Chase were enlightening and educational. After I left Chase, we maintained our friendship in Bangkok, which included periodic rounds of golf. He and his wife, Annie, were interesting and always fun to be with. They held many memorable parties at their residence for staff and friends alike. Ken’s passing came during a brief period that I was travelling out of Thailand, but my personal prayers for him were extended during the time of his funeral. Ken, you were a very memorable and fine person. You had a very positive effect on my life. You will be missed in so many ways.
From Kurt Geiger: I am sad about Ken’s leaving us so early; he has been a great parter and working with him was a real pleasure. We also became friends, and he will be missed by many.
From Ghulam F Hussain: I learned with deep regret the sad demise of my boss at an early age. I worked under him for three years while he was Country Manager of Chase Pakistan. He was a very hard working person with attention to details. His posting to Pakistan was announced just before Christmas holidays and I suggested that he arrive in Pakistan after the holidays, but he insisted on coming to Pakistan before the holidays. On Christmas day I visited the Karachi branch for personal work and to my surprise I found him working alone in the bank. My deep condolence to the family of my mentor.