When Arlene Yocum joined PNC Financial Services Group as a lawyer with the trust department in 1990, she was surprised by the gender balance at the Pittsburgh-based banking company.

In the male-dominated world of banking, Ms. Yocum found herself surrounded by successful women.

"I am lucky to work in an organization like PNC, where not only were there a lot of women, there were a lot of women in powerful positions," Ms. Yocum said. "The bank provides opportunities to anyone, regardless of sex, who works hard and is passionate and dedicated to the work."

Ms. Yocum has taken advantage of those opportunities. In the past 10 years she has risen from counsel to senior counsel, product manager, senior vice president, executive vice president, and as of this week, managing executive of PNC Advisors' Institutional Investment Group.

Ms. Yocum brings to her new position a reputation as a powerful advocate for women both at PNC and beyond. She initiated a women's golf league at PNC called "The Slice Girls" to give female financial advisers at PNC additional sales opportunities. In 1995 she founded PNC's Women's Financial Services Network, a program catering to the financial needs of female executives, business owners, and women of wealth.

Ms. Yocum, who assumed the newly created position on May 12, will manage $25 billion in investments for nearly 500 corporations across the country and supervise 200. Ms. Yocum will handle retirement and investment services, charitable and endowment services, and investment management services.

"More than half the people in the professional work force are women, and at some point in time 90% of them will have to make independent financial decisions because either they will get separated or divorced, outlive their spouse, or never get married," Ms. Yocum said. "This isn't some push for equal rights; individualized attention is just logical."

For her work with the Women's Financial Services Network, Ms. Yocum was honored Monday as one of Pennsylvania's Best 50 Women in Business by Gov. Tom Ridge.

"Arlene is a savvy businessperson. She looked at women and women's customers not from an advocacy standpoint, but from a business case. She saw that they were our fastest-growing client segment," said J. William Mills, an executive vice president and her supervisor. "She is looking for the business edge, not a gender edge."

PNC already had two women executive vice presidents. Gail Graham holds that title for the private client group, and Nancy Wolcott for executive businesses. According to the Catalyst Census, an annual survey of American businesses, 26.7% of executives at PNC are women. That ranks the company 31st among America's largest companies in percentage of women holding top posts.

"There is no glass ceiling here," Mr. Mills said. "Arlene has earned every promotion. She is one of our most valuable senior employees and the fact that she is a woman is really just a bonus. Everything we have ever thrown at her, she has done well."

Ms. Yocum joined PNC as counsel to its bank asset liability department and was promoted to senior counsel of the bank's Investment Management and Trust Division. In 1995 she became product manager for the corporate trust division, and in 1999 she was promoted to senior vice president of PNC Advisors.

Half the members of PNC's large sales force are women, she said, which is unusual in a corporate marketplace. "And some of the most successful and highly compensated people on that force are women," Ms. Yocum said. "I want to open every door I can possibly open for them."

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