Vice Chairman, Investment Banking, Barclays
"By nature, I'm an optimist. After 36 years in this business, I have to be."
That's Barbara Byrne speaking last year at a Fortune magazine-sponsored panel on lessons learned from the financial crisis. Though she lived through the downfall of her old firm, Lehman Brothers, and still sees rough times ahead for the global economy, Byrne maintains her faith in the long-term U.S. economy, specifically in energy (one of the sectors she serves at Barclays). She says an evolution in oil and gas production is fast-tracking the United States to energy independence within a decade and returning jobs and facilities to the country in the process.
Under Byrne, Barclays' investment banking division finished the first half of 2013 in the top three on Dealogic's league tables for U.S. mergers and acquisitions and global debt capital markets, and it was a bookrunner on seven of the 10 largest initial public offerings.
Byrne is supportive of rising women at Barclays, often bringing female staff members to client presentations and meetings. "I work with women on my team and then say 'over to you' in the session," Byrne tells American Banker Magazine. "Into the deep water they go, and they always swim. Confidence is born."