Philip J. Purcell received his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 1967. He participated in the first year of the International Business Exchange Program, earning his MS in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1966, concentrating in economics and industry.
After earning his MBA, Purcell joined McKinsey & Co. He quickly climbed through the ranks until 1975 when he was named the youngest-ever managing director of the Chicago office. In 1978 he joined Sears, Roebuck & Co., where he spearheaded the acquisition of Dean Witter in 1981 and directed the creation of the Discover Card in 1985.
Purcell was named chairman and CEO of Dean Witter/Discover in 1986. When Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merged in 1997, he successfully united two vastly different corporate cultures, ultimately becoming chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Company.
Purcell was also chairman & CEO of NOVUS Credit Card Services. He was a director of Dean Witter InterCapital, Inc.; Dean Witter Realty, Inc.; Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc.; Levelor;, Sears, Roebuck & Co.; and the Securities Industry Administration. He was also chairman of several NOVUS and SPS subsidiaries as well as Discover Card Services, Inc.