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The Woman Who Made It on Wall Street

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Krawcheck's popularity was of little use to her in the CFO job. Citigroup was so vast and its reporting system so complicated that the bank was unable to provide basic measures of profitability, such as a net interest margin or an accurate accounting of expenses, according to people familiar with the matter. But despite the dysfunction, Krawcheck put her mark on the finance department. She prepared obsessively and instituted a weekly account of Citigroup's financial position. Krawcheck is a former journalism major, and she used a system popular with magazine editors: Staffers assembled a massive book, delivered it to her house each Friday night, and then fielded her calls throughout the weekend. She picked up so much information that she spoke on quarterly earnings calls without a script, says a person familiar with Krawcheck's tenure. She also tried to lessen the influence of the bank's infamous internal politics by creating a board of 15 people to evaluate investment proposals before they reached the CEO. The measure was meant to prevent Citi's investment decisions from turning into a popularity contest. In 2005, she also created a group to monitor Citigroup's liquidity, which insiders consider a prescient move given the bank's struggle with losses in the financial crisis. Bank of America might not have much cared about Krawcheck's experience as CFO, but if it did, she may have helped herself by not just killing time or throwing up her hands in despair. This is actually a quality that Krawcheck has in common with many successful female executives, who preach "not giving up" as the chief chapter of their gospel.

Krawcheck's career is not open to everybody, of course. Most women don't need to manage 16,000 people. But her management approach was also the core message delivered to 2,000 women who attended Deutsche Bank's Women on Wall Street conference last month: Make friends, not enemies, create a pleasant work environment, be persistent, work hard, and accept that change is the only constant. Wall Street isn't going to turn out 2,000 Krawcheck clones; it just needs more than one.

Heidi N. Moore is a business writer in New York City.


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