Mary Callahan Erdoes throws herself into her work. Known for 12-hour days, according to an American Banker profile, she sometimes brings her three daughters to the office on weekends to avoid losing a chance for family time. Her daughters see the example she sets, much as she once followed the advice of her mother and her grandmothers.
Coming from a family of strong women, she cites both her grandmothers as strong influences on her life; her paternal grandmother Kay, along with her father, were "math geniuses;" perhaps unsurprisingly, her father was an investment banker with Lazard Freres. But if her paternal grandmother was the math genius, it was her maternal grandmother who was determined to teach her math, pushing her to beat the competition even in grade school.
Now CEO of J.P. Morgan's Asset Management division, Callahan Erdoes presides over a business that brings in nearly $9 billion per year and has also been mentioned as a possible successor to JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon.
In a New York Times story, she recalled a time that she was far from powerful, when at 21 a colleague appropriated her work as his own and presented it to their boss. She called home to talk to her mother, who told her, "Don't take no bullying from nobody." She took the advice, confronting the colleague and telling him he should never steal someone else's work again.
The courage that allowed her to speak out early on stood her in good stead later, when she was tasked to lead a conference call on world markets. Her background was fixed income, but other asset classes were under discussion and she was unfamiliar with them.
Instead of trying to seem as if she knew the unfamiliar subjects, says the article, "… Erdoes became the person who asked all of the questions that others were too shy or embarrassed to ask."
The conference call, with 3,500 employees in 38 countries, according to Crain's New York Business, has become a staple, and her colleagues say she is an outstanding coach and communicator. She also has a reputation for consensus building and extraordinary leadership skills.
See the lead news article on the 2011 50 Top Women in Wealth.
See the article on the process for choosing the 2011 50 Top Women in Wealth.
See the 2010 50 Top Women in Wealth.