The lawsuit from the Securities Exchange Commission, accusing Goldman Sachs of defrauding investors on mortgage investments, was delivered on a Friday afternoon in April.

Stacy Bash-Polley, who co-heads fixed income sales at the firm, immediately got on the phone immediately with other executives to decide how to communicate with clients. The goal was to be proactive in talking about the problem and not wait for clients to call with questions.

On Monday morning, Bash-Polley met with client-facing managers and told them they had to call all of their clients-fast. By noon that day, the securities division had contacted 2,500 people offering to provide any resources they requested about the impact of the SEC lawsuit. (By July the lawsuit was settled when Goldman agreed to pay $550 million in fines and restitution.)

Bash-Polley is known as a good listener who asks people what's on their minds. She is also said to be a keen observer of talent, often positioning good employees for promotion opportunities by giving them tactical opportunities to lead.

Within five years of being hired at the international sales desk in 1994, Bash-Polley became the top producer in Goldman Sachs' history. Her swift career rise led to the position of managing director in 2002. She made partner two years later.

"The key is to love what you do," says Bash-Polley. "Make sure you're giving a lot, but be conscious of what you're taking as well."

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