In 1973 when Kathleen Walsh Carr was trying to figure out what path to take in the banking industry, her mother gave her some advice she never forgot: "Go where the money is."

This led Carr, now the president of $2 billion-asset Cardinal Financial Corp. in Tysons Corner, Va., to the world of commercial lending, where she became one of first women commercial loan officers in the country.

Carr admits that she knew little about the business back then, but thanks to the wisdom of her mother and another woman, Patricia Klinck, who Carr calls her "cheerleader," she quickly moved up the ranks at the former National Bank of Washington.

Carr knew a little something about being a woman in a mostly man's world.

Julia Montgomery Walsh, Carr's mother (really her stepmother, though Carr would never call her that), was an investment manager and the first woman to hold a seat on the American Stock Exchange. She also raised 12 children, seven of which-including Carr-had a different mother who passed away.

"Her basic premise in life was you must always be prepared to support yourself and your family," Carr says.

Now Carr imparts similar advice to the younger employees at Cardinal.

She also is intent on encouraging them to give back to the community; she personally sponsors the twenty- and thirtysomethings at Cardinal to participate in charity walk-a-thons and even walks at their side to "get to know them better."

"I like to say that there are no shining stars here," Carr says. "We are all just part of a great Milky Way."

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