Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 17, Goldman's Stephanie Cohen

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Chief Strategy Officer, Goldman Sachs

Much has been made over the past few months about Stephanie Cohen’s age.

Her appointment this summer to Goldman Sachs’ management committee made her its youngest member. But she doesn’t see what the fuss is about.

“Forty-one is not so young,” said Cohen, who is an ex-officio committee member.

Besides, her job as chief strategy officer involves working with all of the panel members on a daily basis, she said.

“You have this idea of what it feels like to go to the 41st floor,” where the executive offices are located, she said. But once you go there every day, “you just get used to it.”

What the industry misses in focusing on her age is that she spent two decades climbing to the top of a male-dominated field — and that she took on some tough assignments along the way.

Cohen joined Goldman in the late 1990s as an analyst after college. She later moved to San Francisco to work on nontech mergers and acquisitions and earned a series of high-profile promotions. With the exception of a yearlong assignment in 2008 to a division that handles conflicts of interest, Cohen spent most of her career in M&A.

Before being appointed to her current role in January, she was head of financial and strategic investor M&A, focusing on sovereign wealth and pension funds.

Reflecting on her career, Cohen said one of her most rewarding experiences was working on the financial crisis-era merger of Chrysler and Fiat. She also helped Chrysler pay off its bailout by negotiating with the Treasury Department.

Cohen remembers Chrysler employees at the time wearing big buttons that said “Paid,” signifying a new chapter for an automaker that had been on the brink.

“The employees were really proud,” she said. “I remember seeing the cars that they were going to bring out for the auto shows — it was really emotional.”

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