Dawn Fitzpatrick
Global Head and Chief Investment Officer, UBS O'Connor

When Dawn Fitzpatrick was growing up, she had a speech impediment so strong that her older sister, Tara, was often called upon to speak on her behalf. These days, Fitzpatrick can frequently be found sounding off on the markets to Bloomberg TV and CNBC — and she credits the world of hard numbers and finance with her transformation.

Fitzpatrick, the global head and chief investment officer of the $5.6 billion hedge fund UBS O'Connor, says she remained quite shy even after speech therapy addressed her impairment as a child. But timidity wasn't an option once she became a trader at O'Connor & Associates in the early 1990s.

"You can't be shy in this kind of environment," Fitzpatrick says. "That's why I went into a very results-oriented, bottom-line, clear-cut type of job."

Her focus on the bottom line has helped her steer the flagship fund to a return of 84.11% since she took the helm at the UBS unit in September 2007. She oversees its 140 employees, and was recently chosen to serve as one of 15 leaders on the Federal Reserve's investor advisory committee on financial markets.

Fitzpatrick is one of only a handful of women to head a major hedge fund firm. She says the most surprising thing she's discovered about her job is how at ease she feels in its hyper-competitive milieu.

"I find it more stressful out of the office than in the office," Fitzpatrick says. "Running money and making calculated bets is a world where I'm very comfortable operating. It's outside the confines of this world that things are difficult to handicap."

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