KAREN J. CURTIN Managing director Continental Bank Corp.

Karen J. Curtin describes herself as an overachiever, and she has the track record to back it up.

A managing director of Continental Bank Corp.'s equipment leasing division. Ms. Curtin tripled the profitability of the unit's average customer account in three years. At the same time, she overhauled the unit's credit polices and boosted portfolio quality.

Ms. Curtin, 37, says she thrives on the diversity of her responsibilities, but says a tight focus on goals is the key to her unit's results.

A native of Fort Mill, S.C., Ms. Curtin joined Continental in 1978, shortly after completing a master's degree in international finance at Columbia University.

She was named a vice president in 1984, joined the equipment-leasing division in 1985, and was named division manager of the unit in 1988.

Tennis, swimming, and skiing are among Ms. Curtin's favorite recreations. The executive also participates in community affairs and is on the board of the Girl Scouts of Chicago.

The banking industry is overgrown, says Ms. Curtin, who believes the appropriate response is forsaking an "all things to all people" mentality.

"Find out what you're good at, and gear to that," she says.

Ms. Curtin says she's unclear about her career goals, except for one point: "I do plan to be successful."

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