Cocktail hour at the 10th annual celebration of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance was a festive occasion. Glasses clinked, cameras flashed, new acquaintances were made, old friends were reunited.

The warmth carried into the grand ballroom of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria as the 600-plus guests, dressed in their black-tie best, moved into the giant hall for the awards dinner.

Scott Anderson, CEO of Zions First National Bank, the event’s platinum sponsor, surprised the room—and the team of Zions women he was sitting with—by announcing that his company had made a $50,000 donation to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, for breast cancer research, in honor of the Most Powerful Women in Banking.

Lynn Carter, who appeared twice on the ranking before retiring last year as president of Capital One Bank, returned to the event as the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award. She and fellow Lifetime Achievement honoree Julie Williams, the former acting Comptroller of the Currency, each took the stage for some brief remarks.

The star of the evening, though, was Irene Dorner, and not just because she was No. 1 on this year’s list of the 25

Most Powerful Women in Banking. Dorner, the CEO of HSBC USA, captivated the audience with a speech in which she was funny and forthright, speaking proudly of her accomplishments but also saying she was humbled by the work still left to do.

“The legacy of leaders is determined by their success at creating conditions where their organization, and everyone in it, and everyone served by it, can thrive in the long term,” Dorner said. “ … Do not pretend to be role model if your success was based on mastering the old rules. And for goodness sake, do not be a queen bee and pull that ladder up behind you.”   -Heather Landy

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