Head of Passive Asset Management for the Americas, Deutsche Asset Management | Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank had a lot to contend with last year — not that Fiona Bassett let that hamper her.

Germany's largest lender incurred some heavy fines and undertook a massive restructuring plan in 2016, on top of dealing with the same industry challenges of low interest rates and tougher banking regulation as others.

But Bassett's business at Deutsche Asset Management showed no such stress. Market share increased and its product range expanded, as she continued to transform what was essentially an ETF startup into a more full-service shop. By the end of 2016, the U.S. passive business had grown to $19 billion in assets under management, up from $1 billion at the start of 2014.

"Fiona's grit and exemplary leadership were truly tested in 2016, which was arguably one of the most tumultuous years for Deutsche Bank and our asset management business," said Nicolas Moreau, head of Deutsche Asset Management. Despite the clamor, he said, "Fiona managed to not only maintain, but successfully grow her business."

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That growth included adding 11 people to her team from inside and outside the bank. And while questions about Deutsche's stability swirled, she was named "fund leader of the year" by Fund Action and Fund Directions in their annual Mutual Fund Industry Awards.

"I have taken risks throughout my career, and they have always paid dividends," Bassett said.

Involvement with women's issues is also important to Bassett, who is a founding sponsor of the asset management unit's Women's Leadership Initiative.

"Entry level in asset management starts with gender equality but then deteriorates, with the C-suite having amongst the lowest female representation across industries, so it's clear that we have a lot of work to do," she said.