But the stress on the industry has taken its toll on some senior female executives who
have, in essence, opted out. Of note are Lisa Binder, president and CEO of Associated Bank
and a Top 25 honoree in years past, who resigned her post in May. Erin Callan, Lehman
Brothers’ CFO who briefly took a position at Credit Suisse, is also reportedly on hiatus.
This phenomenon isn’t new. Many of the industry’s most talented women make a
lifestyle choice not to reach for the next rung if it means even longer hours, more travel,
and less time with their families, says Diane Offereins, executive vice president of payment
services at Discover Financial Services. “I am actually concerned that more women are
stepping out and saying, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” she says.
In their recent book “Womenomics,” television journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman note that up to one-third of professional women take a breather from their careers at
some point, and that MBAs are more likely than doctors or lawyers to choose to stay home
with their children. The problem with this is crystallized in something Jack Welch said recently at a Society of Human Resources Management conference: that women who choose
to get off the executive track are more likely to get passed over for top jobs when they are
ready to return. “There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences,” Welch says.
This is damaging for the individual women, and could have a ripple effect on younger
executives, Offereins fears. “I think it’s important to have women in the senior ranks because they think about hiring and promoting women,” she says.
It’s a legitimate concern, but at least at mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup and BNY Mellon there are well-established mentoring and networking programs to
help mid-level executives get to that next level and still achieve that work-life balance. And
it’s good to know that programs like these have not been casualties of the financial crisis.
(See related story, page 10.)
The 25 MOST POWERFUL WOMEN IN BANKING 2009
THE 2009 RANKINGS
Ranking who is most powerful is not an exact science—and it’s not easy, especially in a year
like this past one. Performance counts, to be sure, but editors also recognize that a bank’s
numbers could be skewed by an event like re-paying TARP money or selling a business unit
to raise capital. That’s why other factors, like a nominee’s job responsibility, management
style, crisis-management skills, influence within the industry, and charitable endeavors are
given strong consideration. Once again, there are four categories: The 25 Most Powerful
Women in Banking; The 25 Women to Watch; The Top 25 Nonbank Women in Finance
and The Top 3 Banking Teams.
Fifty-two women are repeat winners from last year—though not necessarily in the same
categories—and several others return to the rankings after an absence. For the third
straight year, Heidi Miller, the CEO of JPMorgan Treasury and Securities Services, ranks as
the No. 1 Most Powerful Woman in Banking. Right on her heels is BNY Mellon’s Karen
Peetz, who moves up from No. 6 in 2008. Large banks, not surprisingly, are once again well
represented. JPMorgan Chase and Citi lead the way, with five honorees each among The 25
Most Powerful and The 25 Women to Watch.
Eight women who were among the The 25 Women to Watch last year have moved up to
The 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking. That group includes Lynn Pike, the president of
Capital One Bank, who was the driving force behind Capital One’s acquisition of Chevy
Chase Bank of Maryland, and finally gave McLean, Va.-based Capital One a retail presence
in its own backyard. It also includes MetLife Bank CEO Donna DeMaio, who engineered
the acquisition of First Horizon National Corp.’s mortgage business that led to record profits for the bank.
Three women who ranked among The 25 Most Powerful last year—including Krawcheck, who was No. 5—wind up either on The 25 Women to Watch or The Top 25 Nonbank Women in Finance after switching jobs. (The rules of the rankings require women to
be in their current positions for at least year to be considered for The 25 Most Powerful
Women in Banking.) Krawcheck’s ranking as the No. 1 “Woman to Watch” seems especially
appropriate. The ink was barely dry on the news release announcing her hiring when she
was already being mentioned as a possible successor to BofA CEO Ken Lewis.
One interesting newcomer to the rankings is BBVA Compass retail chief Shelaghmichael Brown. Brown was honored for smoothly integrating a string of acquisitions in the
Southeast and Southwest. What we didn’t know until we interviewed her was that, after
years of moving up the executive ladder, Brown left banking for four years earlier this
decade to help her then-teenage sons with their studies. CEOs, boards and Jack Welch take
note: Brown is proof that even after an extended hiatus, women can maintain their drive
and passion, and pick up where they left off.
Kathy Brister contributed to this story.
The 25 WOMEN TO WATCH 2009
Cathy BESSAN T
Nancy WOLCOT T
The Top 25 NONBANK WOMEN IN FINANCE 2009
Anne DIAS GRIFFIN
Liz Ann SONDERS