Executive vice president Coast Bank, Sarasota, Fla.

Theresa J. Schefstad is credited with getting more bang for her company's payroll buck.

As senior vice president responsible for 11 branches in the eastern region, two years ago Ms. Schefstad required her employees to work 40 hours a week, instead of 37.5. The policy has since been imposed on all Coast employees.

Ms. Schefstad, 34, says her career has been aided by executives who "appreciate performance," so it's not surprising that she logs about 70 hours of work each week. However, she has been known to take time off to ski in Switzerland or go white-water rafting in Colorado.

"Everyone gives and takes whenever they make up a priority list. For me right now, my works schedule and the amount I devote to personal time fits well for me. I work hard and I play hard," she says.

Ms. Schefstad is one of two executive vice presidents at Coast, a Sarasota, Fla.-based thrift with $1.2 billion in assets. She is responsible for branch administration, product development, marketing, community relations, and security. She is also merger coordinator for Coast's pending acquisition by SunTrust Banks Inc., Atlanta. She expects to remain with the company after that deal closes this summer.

A Virginia native, Ms. Schefstad began her banking career as a check sorter with Southeast Banking Corp. after graduating from high school in Orlando. After earning a bachelor of science degree in business administration and computer science from the University of Central Florida. Ms. Schefstad continued working her way up the ladder at Southeast Bank: from branch manager to head of private banking outside Miami to portfolio manager for municipalities and counties.

It was Ms. Schefstad's work in private banking that caught the attention of William R. Klich, who earlier had run Southeast's operations in early Florida. He hired her in early, 1991 after he left Southeast to become president of Coast.

Ms. Schefstad also gives herself an extra edge by taking steps to enhance her skills. To complement her banking education, she holds securities, mortgage brokerage, and real estate sales licenses and is a certified financial planner.

"There's an overcapacity of bankers in the world today, and I've tried to find ways to be different," she says.

While Ms. Schefstad's superiors give her rave reviews, they admit that her long hours and myriad outside activities sometimes give them pause.

The one thing we worry about is: Are we going to burn her out?" Mr. Klich says.

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