31. ‘Their finest hour’

As this account took shape in 2006, I could not help feeling that Hibernia’s response to this disaster was remarkable.  It tested the mettle of so many.  It inspired resilience and imagination in thousands of men and women.  I heard about many heroic moments and heroic people.

But was it necessary?

However, there was a business question that had to be asked:

Was it all necessary?  Could better disaster planning and strategic vision by leaders have prevented the more alarming situations?

If certain operational redundancies had existed, if more recovery investments had been made, if the welfare of people had not been left largely to chance at first, if certain communications precautions had been taken, would it have been an “easier” disaster?

I felt the answer, practically speaking, was “yes” to all of the above.

A model

That said, my final feeling was wholly positive.  Hibernia recovered as well as or better than any financial organization in the region.  The steps we took to recover were being studied by others.  Some of the company’s decisions and actions probably would be emulated in the future.  What a fitting final chapter in the company’s rich history.

As they joined the Capital One family, Hibernia’s people could surely look back on 2005 and say, in the famous words of Winston Churchill on the eve of the Battle of Britain,

“… this was their finest hour.”

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