Maureen Miskovic has spent her entire career "running toward gunfire."

She started out at the London Metal Exchange as the silver crisis was cresting. She was at the London Stock Exchange for the Mexican peso crisis and Barings Bank's implosion. And she became the chief risk officer at Lehman Brothers just in time for the run on its stock in 1998. "I keep telling myself that I really have to stop doing this at some point," she says. "But it's just a part of who I am."

In April 2008, after spending 14 months on the board of directors at State Street, the Boston financial services company asked her to be its chief risk officer. As a risk manager, Miskovic says it was frustrating for her to simply sit on the board as market conditions deteriorated. "As a member of the board, sometimes it is hard to stick your nose in, but keep your fingers out," she says. "My career was in risk management. That is where I belonged."

Miskovic says the company needed a team on the front lines to get through the difficult market environment. She now leads 250 risk professionals who handle risk management for the company.

Brad Hintz, a research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, says at Lehman, Miskovic was the "tough house mother" that the company and its traders needed. "I don't think of Maureen just as a chief risk officer, I think she is more a generalist than she gives herself credit for," says Hintz, who was chief financial officer at Lehman when Miskovic was its CRO. "She knows what traders need."

Miskovic says that she is realistic about the future. She says it could be as many as four or five years before economic conditions improve. "We are still in the cross-hairs, both politically and in terms of regulations," she says.

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