Wall Street's consumer retail business has been lumpy over the past 12 months, even for Goldman Sachs.

Kathy Elsesser, a Goldman managing director since 2002 and partner since 2004, and head of its consumer retail group in investment banking, has used every ounce of her energy to keep her team on track. She drives strategic planning for the group and is responsible for handling many of Goldman's important retail and consumer customers. The unit's client relationships have improved and the business mix is better, and observers say it is the market leader.

"The biggest challenge of the past year has been keeping the team focused on what it is we do, giving our clients the best advice, in an environment where the firm was so much in the spotlight," says Elsesser. "Before the crisis, Goldman Sachs had a lower profile.

Her clients appreciate Elsesser's focus. "Kathy is unrivaled among her peers," notes Karen Hoguet, chief financial officer of Macy's Inc. "She stands out because of her creativity and thoughtful approaches to solving problems and capitalizing on opportunities. She always seeks to put her clients' interests first. In a world that has become more transactional, Kathy sets herself apart by consistently focusing on the long-term relationship."

Elsesser makes time for community at and away from the office. She serves as global chair of diversity for the investment banking division and as a member the company-wide diversity committee, and is an active supporter and admirer of the Brooklyn Children's Museum for its "great educational and social programs ... for underprivileged kids."

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