About the time Toyota introduced its hybrid Prius in the United States, and a good four years before "An Inconvenient Truth" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Goldman Sachs investment banker Clare Scherrer got an inkling that demand for clean water-and the efficient use of resources generally-would soon drive businesses globally. The insight came from watching the dynamics in an auction of a single water technology company. "From that one transaction I saw an opportunity to develop a practice where one hadn't existed before," Scherrer says.

This deal led Scherrer to create first a domestic, then an international plan to build Goldman a practice in water technology and energy efficiency mergers and acquisitions and IPOs. Goldman now owns that sector, holding number one market share and collecting roughly 80 percent of M&A and IPOs in the sector in the last six years, not to mention generating $80 million in revenue for the firm. Revenue in the industrials group is down 15 percent year-over-year in the 12 months ending May 31, but Scherrer says her niche has been least affected by the macroeconomic environment, and she believes it will continue to prosper. "There's no solution on the horizon," she says. "There's nothing that's going to come along and make water less scarce."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.