After many late nights running through merger scenarios for a client, Nicole Arnaboldi, fresh out of Harvard Business School at her first job with an investment bank, walked into her boss's office and experienced a seminal moment that would shape her entire career.

"It wasn't like a big meeting or anything like that," says Arnaboldi, who recently changed roles at Credit Suisse from vice chairman of alternative investments. "I brought my piles of analysis to the person who was then heading our M&A business and I plopped it down for him, and he said, 'So what do you think? How should we advise our client?'"

She had done some analysis while crunching numbers on various buyout models-something that today can be done with the click of a button, she says-but the question still shocked her. "Here was this senior M&A guy that actually cared to ask me the question of what I thought."

She says the experience highlighted the importance of being prepared-"the old Boy Scout motto." It also taught her to push beyond the basic tasks at hand to deliver in ways that her superiors might not be expecting, and to consider the larger perspective rather than getting mired in those tasks. "Because, in effect, that's really the transition that everybody has to make coming up the chain-from running the numbers, to thinking about strategy," Arnaboldi says. "Obviously, the earlier you start thinking about that, the better."

Given the nature of Arnaboldi's new role at Credit Suisse, taking a circumspect view has never been more important. Besides decision-making for the bank's large illiquid portfolio and fortifying relationships with key investors, Arnaboldi must helpredefine Credit Suisse's asset management strategy in the wake of the monumental Dodd-Frank Act, particularly the Volcker Rule.

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