Looking back, Diane Schumaker-Krieg says her career was driven more by fear than anything else.

She was laid off in the months after the October 1987 "Black Monday" stock market crash from her position overseeing the syndication of Dillon, Read & Co.'s managed-equity offerings. She had come off a zero-bonus year as a single parent of a six-year-old son, so she got creative.

The day after losing that job,she persuaded Dillon's equity division head to rehire her to develop a research business, with the only cost being her base salary. Her first client was James Wolfensohn, the then-president of the World Bank, who happened to pick up his phone when she called thinking it was his car service. She didn't let him go until he bought a subscription.

In 1991, Schumaker-Krieg took the business to Credit Suisse First Boston where it became one of the top hard-dollar research units on Wall Street, creating opportunities for her all-female team and positioning Schumaker-Krieg for a promotion to managing director and co-head of equity research.

She later joined Wachovia Securities, and in 2008 persuaded new owner Wells Fargo to retain and expand the research business, which Wells itself had exited several years earlier.

With success, Schumaker-Krieg believes she is obliged to reach down and lift other women up. "I don't want to be the only senior woman sitting at the table. That's not success," she says. "Despite the progress women have made in financial services, there are no women running a major investment bank. That's our challenge and our opportunity."

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