One of the highest-ranking women in risk management, Fifth Third's Mary Tuuk is as determined to balance risk and reward professionally as she is in her personal life.

For a hard-charging executive who believes that the only way to deal with tough problems is head on — exemplified by Fifth Third being one of the first companies to aggressively write off commercial real estate loans-Tuuk exudes surprising tranquility.

"The biggest thing I do is, I go home at night and I remember that whatever the challenge was of the day, it's one day out of many in a lifelong journey," says Tuuk, who in her personal life is involved in organizations that promote mentoring and fine arts.

One of Tuuk's recent accomplishments is helping lead Fifth Third to outperform the rest of the industry in modified mortgage re-default rates.

She believes the biggest shift in risk management is the need to piece together the whole picture as one risk equation rather than focusing on individual pieces, like credit risk.

"In today's world it's about a holistic view of risk and understanding how all of the different categories of risk come together in a more holistic, integrated and correlated fashion," she says.

Her toughest challenge is to maintain the same level of intensity today as at the height of the financial crisis and she again credits her success to her grounding.

"As we've gone through the economic crisis in the immensity of it in the last couple years, the biggest challenge has been maintaining persistence and determination to see our way through the crisis," she says. "Having that sense of balance really helps me with the ability to maintain that persistence and determination."

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