Chief Regulatory Affairs Officer | JPMorgan Chase

For Sandie O'Connor, the importance of sponsoring talented young women in banking is personal.

O'Connor got her start at JPMorgan Chase 29 years ago, in a rotational program for young graduates who aspired to work in audit and risk management. During the two-year program, she did stints in fixed-income trading, swaps and derivatives and asset management.

At the end of her rotation, O'Connor expected to take a job in business management, but the head of liquidity and interest rate management made an offer that shocked her. " 'Would you like to come onto the desk?" O'Connor recalled him asking. "We'll train you to become a trader.' "

Working on a trading floor wasn't the career path she expected, nor was it a path that many women took at the time. "You could count the number of women on the trading floor on one hand, and you didn't need your whole hand," she said.

Unsure of what to do, she talked to several of her colleagues. They were mostly men who encouraged her to ask about working in sales instead, still a powerhouse Wall Street job, but one that was seen as being better suited to women.

Then O'Connor talked to the man she later married — who urged her to take the trading job. He pointed out that the head of the investment bank was taking a chance on her because he saw something promising.

See the most recent rankings:
Most Powerful Women in Banking
Women to Watch
Most Powerful Women in Finance

She decided to go for it.

"I dove in with both feet and I never looked back," O'Connor said. "It literally was the basis for everything I have done in my career that has differentiated me."

After finishing the sales and trading program, O'Connor went into fixed-income trading, managing interest rate risk for the house account.

That set in motion a career path that has taken her across the New York megabank, in jobs such as chief executive of prime services, treasurer and now head of regulatory affairs. But it all started when her boss created an unexpected opportunity for her, and when she trusted herself enough to accept it.

Read more:

Kristin Broughton

Kristin Broughton

Kristin Broughton is a reporter for American Banker, where she writes about the business of national and regional banking.