1. Ann Marie Petach
CFO, Blackrock

As chief financial officer at BlackRock, Ann Marie Petach works in a soaring skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. It's a long way away from the greasy, gritty Ford Motor plant in Michigan where she started her career.

When Petach took an entry-level job as a financial analyst in Ford's electrical and electronics division, she thought it would simply be a good way to learn corporate finance, and that her stay with the automaker would last no longer than three years. But it turned into a 23-year journey that spanned three continents and led to Petach becoming Ford's treasurer.

It also led to her job at BlackRock, which helped Ford with its debt issuance and pension fund management. Petach got to know BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink, and once asked for his advice on a job opportunity that came her way. He told her not to take it, and soon hired her himself, bringing her on board in 2007 as head of business finance, and making her CFO a year later.

Petach defies the stereotype of the CFO as corporate bean counter. She is a strategic adviser both internally and to key clients. In addition to chairing BlackRock's capital committee and co-chairing its corporate risk committee, she sits on the firm's global executive, global operating and government relations steering committees.

It was Petach who pushed BlackRock to increase its credit line from a negligible amount to something closer to $2.5 billion, which eventually helped position the firm to be able to acquire Barclays Global Investors in 2009. The $15.2 billion deal-Petach was instrumental in the due diligence process-vaulted BlackRock's assets under management, now at $3.56 trillion, past that of State Street and Fidelity Investments. She also spearheaded major secondary offerings that pushed shares formerly held by big stakeholders like Bank of America into the public market. In less than two years, BlackRock's ownership has gone from 80 percent privately held to 80 percent public. Along the way, as the public float crossed the 50 percent mark, the firm qualified for inclusion in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, which it joined in April 2011.

There were few women in upper management at Ford when Petach began her career in the auto industry in the 1980s. But at Black-Rock, she notes, two of the eight founders were women.

"I do believe success breeds success," Petach says. "I was coming into a place where I walked in the door and knew there were senior women with a seat at the table. I wasn't filling a statistic or breaking the barrier. The barrier didn't exist."

One of the "uncelebrated positives" of the Barclays Global Investors deal, Petach says, is all of the networking and development groups that came with the acquisition. Petach is active in the firm's Women's Leadership Forum and OUT Network.

A married mother of two school-age children, Petach advises mentees to be flexible in their approach to balancing work and home obligations, and promises this can be done without hurting future advancement. "It's impossible to have a plan or strategy. You have to recognize that every single day, every year, every period of time, your priorities are going to be different based on your needs for that moment of time."
2. Abigail Johnson
President, Fidelity Financial Services

Boston was abuzz this spring when the Johnsons of Fidelity Investments fame broke with their usual public relations blackout and showed up for a ceremony, hosted by The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, to honor their philanthropy. Speaking duties went to Abigail Johnson, the heir apparent at the mutual fund giant founded in 1946 by her grandfather and run for the past 35 years by her father.

Johnson described her 82-year-old father, Edward "Ned" Johnson III, the chairman and CEO, as understanding every element of the customer experience at Fidelity. "No, not just understanding-I mean completely dissecting," she said, according to a report in The Boston Globe. Johnson has been influenced by this since her youth; she says her father was frequently called away from the family dinner table to handle customers' concerns.

With her promotion in late August, Johnson now oversees all of Fidelity's major businesses, including asset management, retail and institutional brokers, and retirement and benefit services. The broadening of her responsibilities is widely seen as confirmation that she'll be the next CEO of the family business, where this year mutual fund assets under management crossed the $1.4 trillion mark and plans are afoot for a long-awaited jump into the rapidly growing exchange-traded funds sector. (Image: Bloomberg News)
3. Ruth Porat
EVP And Chief Financial Officer, Morgan Stanley

It's a rough slog for Morgan Stanley when one of the highlights of CFO Ruth Porat's year was minimizing the damage from a credit downgrade in June. But Porat's extensive efforts over a five-month period to explain Morgan Stanley's capitalization strategy proved to be an important reason why its rating from Moody's was cut by only two notches rather than the three it was threatened with. Another factor was Morgan Stanley's ongoing partnership with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which Porat helped to arrange in the fall of 2008, during the most acute phase of the financial crisis.

Porat served as her firm's point person with regulators implementing Dodd-Frank Act rules, and she is one of 14 members of the U.S. Treasury's Borrowing Advisory Committee. She caused a stir in June at The Economist's "World in 2012" forum, where she supported an idea at odds with many Republican-affiliated colleagues in the industry-that wealthy Americans should pay higher tax rates as part of a plan to reduce annual federal budget deficits.
4. Mary Callahan Erdoes
CEO, JPMorgan Asset Management

This is the year of the "London whale" at JPMorgan Chase, but in a way Mary Callahan Erdoes is like the whale hunter. When the company's U.K. office sold contracts on corporate debt that proved to be a multibillion-dollar disaster, there was a notable twist involving counterparties on the trade. The company's own asset management arm, led by Erdoes, actually owned about $380 million of those contracts in a mutual fund, allowing its clients to benefit from the poor decisions JPMorgan made with house money. The New York Times' DealBook described it as a "silver lining" that underscores the independence with which Erdoes runs her business. The 16-year J.P. Morgan veteran already had come off a strong year, with 2011 revenue of $9.5 billion (up 6 percent from 2010) on $1.9 trillion of supervised assets. Erdoes, who has been at her current post since 2009, is often the subject of speculation about being a successor to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.
5. Isabelle Ealet
CO-Head Of Securities, Goldman Sachs

Isabelle Ealet is moving up with her new role as co-head of Goldman Sachs' securities division. Until January, she had been leading the firm's worldwide commodities business, which raked in $2 billion of revenue in each of the past two years, according to press reports. (Goldman itself does not break out revenue for the division.) Ealet, a French native, is now in charge of fixed income, equity and currency trading, in addition to heading the commodities group. Ealet has been with Goldman since 1991 after starting her career as an oil and gas trader with the French energy company Total SA. Goldman named her a managing director in 1997 and a partner in 2000. She has been a member of the firm-wide management committee since 2008.
6. Barbara Byrne
Vice Chairman Of Investment Banking, Barclays Capital

Thinking can't be automated. The rise of technology in financial services, and in investment banking and trading in particular, hasn't negated the need for the human element, but rather made it more pronounced, says Barbara Byrne.

As a 28-year veteran of the failed Lehman Brothers, she can attest that around-the-clock markets, warp-speed trading and the risks of an interconnected world exacerbate volatility.

"The biggest change in the last 10 years in finance is the impact of technology on the speed of information processing and delivery, and the ubiquitous access to the information," Byrne says. "But as the past few years have ably demonstrated, full access to information does not equal full understanding."

Believing strongly in the opportunity for advisers to build lasting relationships, Byrne has retained that personal touch in the past four years at Barclays, where she is the global senior client relationship manager for the likes of GE, IBM, Microsoft, Kraft, Williams and EMC.
7. Diane Offereins
EVP, Discover Financial Services; President, Payment Services

This was the year that Diane Offereins truly made Discover a global player in payment services. Though Discover customers have been able to use their cards overseas since the firm's 2008 acquisition of the international Diners Club brand, Offereins led efforts to expand Discover acceptance even further by extending credit and debit alliances with networks in Puerto Rico and India-which in turn brought popular card brands in the Caribbean and Asia onto Discover's payments grid, including the PULSE ATM network. More deals such as these are expected to come. They'll complement progress in the U.S. market, where Offereins continues to help forge relationships with merchant acquirers that bring aboard the small to midsize companies that help fuel Discover's growing acceptance. Last year, Offereins' team increased network sales volume 13% over 2010 to a record $281 billion. Offereins also led Discover's focus on emerging alternative payment offerings-an area with 65% volume growth-by supporting partners like Bill Me Later that give online retailers access to Discover's closed-loop merchant network.
8. Margaret Keane
President And CEO, GE Capital Retail Finance

A paper-averse CEO, Margaret Keane saw the promise of mobile technology and delivered on it. After GE Capital Retail Bank was folded into her responsibilities last year, the unit introduced mobile smartphone applications that allowed for credit applications, rewards tracking and payments. The hunch paid off with mobile logins topping 1 million a month this year, and for the first time GE is receiving more customer payments online (including on mobile devices) than through checks arriving via mail. On the regulatory front, Keane responded to the new environment by creating a separate unit for compliance and devoting major resources to getting her team ready to handle the demands of the Dodd-Frank Act.
9. Mailz Beams
CEO, ING U.S. Retirement

Named as CEO in June 2011, Beams is not only running the country's No. 2 retirement plan provider-both in institutional plans sponsors (49,492) and participants (5.28 million)-she's also mapping out an eventual spinoff from parent company ING Group. For Beams, a 30-year banking veteran, that has meant putting a sharp focus on quick, profitable growth this past year that will help make the case to the investment community. Beams set in motion a three-year business plan to boost return on equity by growing the business with consumers, advisors and plan distributors. She also integrated the retail and institutional businesses, and commissioned a marketplace review that led to expanding the rollover and advice platforms. In Beams' first year, she already has achieved some historically high returns, according to ING. First quarter 2012 sales of $3.2 billion were a 20% increase over the same period last year, driven by activity with small to midsized firms' 401(k) plans.
10. Candace Browning
Head Of Global Research, Bank Of America Merrill Lynch

As the euro zone crisis boiled, investors began seeking more information from their advisory services, and Candace Browning understood some strategic consolidation was in order for Bank of America Merrill Lynch's global research team. She realigned fixed-income and currency strategists along with economists in hot-button regions, creating a single Europe/Middle East/Asia team to monitor sudden events more closely with the firm's equity and research analysts. She also expanded coverage into covered bonds, property derivatives and regulatory capital for the institution's international structured finance research division. In the U.S. the focus was on keeping clients informed with analysis of domestic rates products including Treasurys, TIPS and swaps. More than 20,000 clients dialed in for regular discussion sessions in the past year.

Browning, who joined Merrill in 1990 after 18 years as an airline industry analyst, has headed global research since 2003. She has long been involved in mentoring women for leadership roles on Wall Street, where females make up less than 10% of the executive field. She also has become involved with Global Ambassadors, a partnership with the Hillary Rodham Clinton-founded Vital Voices organization, pairing emerging women leaders from around the globe with established mentors in government, business and nonprofits.
11. Nicole Arnaboldi
Vice Chair For Asset Management, Credit Suisse

Nicole Arnaboldi has a strong track record in bringing private equity and alternative investment choices to clients. But her group also regularly rakes in honors for more traditional fare, like its bond funds in the European market, which were singled out this year for merit by the likes of Lipper and Morningstar. A big move this year was the launch of a liquid alternatives fund, which comes with looser terms on capital lock-ups versus most hedge funds.

Arnaboldi also devotes time to mentoring female talent at Credit Suisse, and directs the recruiting of women for her division.

A mother of four, she strongly advocates the use of flex scheduling to accommodate female executives. "As for barriers, I think some are self imposed," she said in an interview with TheGlassHammer.com. "But firms also have a responsibility. How do they retain women when the bulk of childcare responsibilities, in our society, falls on women? … How can firms support and provide opportunities for women?"
12. Elizabeth Crain
Chief Operating Officer, Moelis & Co.

Moelis & Co. had barely gotten its first foreign office, in London, off the ground when Elizabeth Crain began spearheading the fast expansion of the New York-based investment bank into Hong Kong, Beijing and Germany. Now she's looking into options for pushing into France, India and Brazil. The possibilities include a de novo office or an acquisition, thanks to a $93 million strategic investment by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. that Crain helped evaluate. It wouldn't be Crain's first global build-out; she played a critical role in the expansion of the investment banking platform for UBS before leaving to help star UBS banker Ken Moelis get his namesake firm off the ground five years ago.

Crain's 20-year career in financial services includes jobs as a principal with Morgan Stanley Capital Partners and as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch. She is an active mentor and a member of 100 Women in Hedge Funds, a global organization supporting educational programming and philanthropy.
13. Charlotte McLaughlin
President And CEO, PNC Capital Markets

With 25% year-over-year revenue growth in the first quarter, PNC Capital Markets and its president and CEO, Charlotte McLaughlin, already had the makings of a good year despite a tough market. But after parent company PNC Financial Services' acquisition of RBC Bank in March for a stronger Southeast footprint, and PNC Capital's aggressive marketing and cross-selling plans, that may be an understatement by yearend.

McLaughlin has found new focal points for sales efforts, and they're paying off handsomely. The derivatives group, for example, has focused on building customized solutions for clients seeking to hedge their interest-rate exposure. The group's sales are up 73 percent over 2011 levels, making it the fastest growing of all of McLaughlin's lines of business. McLaughlin has been central to building the capital markets broker-dealer group, with increased activity in originating mortgage-backed securities and underwriting municipal bonds. There's also the financial institutions group led by McLaughlin, where revenue is outpacing last year's as clients, which are generally awash in liquidity right now, seek to hedge their interest-rate risk.
14. Kathleen Murphy
President Of Personal Investing, Fidelity

Fidelity's personal investing unit was aggressive in branch expansion in 2011, leading to a doubling of the households served by Fidelity and the addition of 1,500 employees. Under the leadership of Kathleen Murphy, the firm also made progress in building up customer service in new channels. Fidelity launched mobile billpay functions for smartphones and tablets, online retirement tools for IRA management, and a revamped iPad app (No. 2 in popularity among financial apps in the iTunes store) that gives retail investors interactive charting capabilities as well as worldwide market performance trends.

Murphy's division also started a fixed-income research and education center on Fidelity.com to give consumers market data comparable to that available to institutional investors. Murphy's business has more than 13 million accounts with $1.2 trillion in assets under management. Prior to joining Fidelity, Murphy served as CEO of ING U.S. Wealth Management.
15. Elizabeth Buse
Group President For Asia Pacific, Central Europe, The Middle East And Africa, Visa

Under Elizabeth Buse's guidance, overseas payments volume for Visa is growing at a hare's pace: second-quarter payments volume was up 13% in the Asia Pacific region and more than 40% in Central Europe/Middle East/Africa. The increases didn't come easily. Buse's team deals with developing markets where Visa acceptance frequently is limited to top-tier cities with the appropriate infrastructure and an adequate concentration of cardholders.

The group has jumped quickly on new technology like mobile point-of-sale acceptance. Buse also has sought to align Visa's strategy with the needs of local governments and communities, such as gearing Visa investments toward public priorities like transportation, travel and financial education.

With Visa seeking to garner more than 50% of its global business from the markets under Buse's leadership-a goal it hopes to achieve by 2015-Buse has been relocating personnel to growth markets in her regions. It's a calling she herself has followed, having moved with her family to Singapore for hands-on oversight in the Asia-Pacific region.
16. Suni Harford
Managing Director, Regional Head Of North American Markets, Citigroup

Last year, Citigroup's Suni Harford lived out of a suitcase visiting clients and account teams across the globe to bring them up to date on the stabilizing performance of the North American markets group. This year, Harford spent a lot of her time buried in red tape.

Harford was in charge of coordinating compliance for her group (a $6.5 billion-revenue division last year) and she spearheaded lobbying and regulatory outreach on Dodd-Frank Act rules, the JOBS Act and derivatives reform, among other things. The burdens of implementing and complying with the new rules forced Harford to institute wholesale changes to expense filing and procurement processes-everything from paper clips to IT service contracts," she says.

While cost-cutting was a priority, so was one of Harford's passions: finding opportunities for military veterans. She leads Citi's efforts to recruit veterans (more than 1,000 hired since January 2011) and was the driving force behind Citi's membership in Veterans on Wall Street, a program to raise awareness on the transition challenges faced by returning service personnel. She also took a co-head role for CitiWomen, the company's initiative to promote gender diversity.
17. Diane Schumaker-Krieg
Global Head Of Research & Economics, Wells Fargo Securities

"Research is seeing what everyone else has seen but thinking what no one else has thought." Diane Schumaker-Krieg didn't say this, though she admires the 1937 Nobel Prize winning scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who did. She applies this to her job at Wells Fargo Securities, by making it a priority to think differently. Having already encouraged collaborative research from debt and equity analysts to assess stocks from disparate viewpoints, Schumaker-Krieg in the past year expanded her group's target readership beyond brokerage clients to sell its intelligence to Wells Fargo clients in other areas such as corporate banking. She also entered the municipal bond research space, recruiting high profile analyst Natalie Cohen. At a time when big-name analysts like Meredith Whitney were ominously forecasting a muni bond meltdown, Cohen took the opposite tack-and munis ended 2011 as one of the top performing asset classes.
18. Maria Elena Lagomasino
CEO, Genspring Family Offices

Maria Elena Lagomasino's support of a universal fiduciary standard for broker-dealers has her marching against many in the securities industry. But for someone who left a position heading JPMorgan Chase's private banking unit over concerns that major firms were placing proprietary investment product sales ahead of client interests, it's not surprising. She also is a founding member of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, a think tank promoting investor-first fiduciary standards in financial advice. Lagomasino has been at SunTrust-affiliated GenSpring for seven years, and oversees more than $20 billion in assets under management. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Economic Club of New York, serves on the boards of Coca Cola, Avon and The Americas Society, and is a trustee of the National Geographic Society.
19. Kelly M. Williams
Managing Director, Global Head, Credit Suisse Customized Fund Investment Group

Credit Suisse's Customized Fund Investment Group already is one of the world's largest private equity and real estate fund-of-funds businesses. Under Kelly Williams' leadership, it has a growing client pipeline that could add more assets under management in 2012 than in the last four years combined.

Emerging markets were at the center of Credit Suisse's institutional investment strategy in 2011 and 2012. Through partnerships with development banks in Asia and Africa, and a domestic focus on hard-hit U.S. states like Michigan, Williams was able to steer client funds into "impact" vehicles, where social good comingled with returns that helped drive a 10% spurt in net income for the business. The initial infrastructure fund put together by Williams' group closed last November with over $525 million of capital, much of which came from major pension plan investors.

Williams served on the advisory boards of private equity funds like TPG Partners, The Riverside Co. and Provident Equity Partners, and was appointed to the advisory board of the U.S. Export-Import Bank last year.
20. Lisa Carnoy
Co-Head Of Global Capital Markets, Bank Of America Merrill Lynch

Lisa Carnoy will be proud to tell you how the global capital markets group at Bank of America Merill Lynch has been scaling the league tables, with worldwide market share rising from 6.6% at the end of 2009 to 8.2% at the end of last year, according to Dealogic. But in this new, regulatory capital-driven environment, Carnoy is thinking bigger picture about the velocity of capital, and deals like United Technologies' $9.8 billion bond issue in May, the largest U.S. corporate bond offering in more than three years. Her firm was a joint bookrunner on the deal, designed to help finance United Technologies' acquisition of Goodrich.

Carnoy, who reports to global corporate and investment banking chief Christian Meissner, previously was global head of equity capital markets, a role that put her at the center of the $19 billion capital raise that helped Bank of America get out from under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. She was promoted to her current role soon after, in early 2010, sharing responsibility with Alastair Borthwick for a staff of 750 spanning 16 countries and the full spectrum of debt, equity, foreign exchange and derivatives origination markets. Carnoy is an active recruiter for the firm and serves as executive sponsor of the global banking and markets group's Women's Leadership Council. She also is a trustee of Columbia University, alongside other banking executives including Esta Stecher of Goldman Sachs and Vikram Pandit of Citigroup.
21. Katia Bouazza
Co-Head, Debt Capital Markets For The Americas, HSBC Securities

After a decade of being the face of her firm's debt capital markets team in Latin America, Katia Bouazza last year was elevated to a post that now has her overseeing the debt origination business across the Americas for HSBC. Her track record in Latin America explains why. She helped push HSBC to the top of the league tables for Latin American bond sales the past two years (the firm was second in Bloomberg's July 2012 ranking) and she has raised the company's profile among business leaders in the region who are looking to attract investment from Asia and Europe.

Bouazza has opened up new funding channels for clients by helping them raise capital in different currencies. For example, she led Mexico's state-owned petroleum firm Pemex in a debt sale that raised Australian dollars, the first such Latin American corporate issue to do so. A client who has worked with Bouazza on more than two dozen transactions applauds her "comprehensive knowledge" of her customers and says her work ethic and down-to-earth sense of self "brings great credit to the banking industry."

Bouazza spent two years at Lehman Brothers before joining HSBC in 1996.
22. Joyce Chang
Managing Director, Head Of Global Credit, Emerging Markets And Index Research, J.P. Morgan

When Joyce Chang joined Salomon Brothers more than two decades ago as a graduate student studying development economics, the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s still loomed large over the emerging markets business. At that time, sovereigns in the developing world were not yet rated; the debt generally consisted of nonperforming loans, not distressed bonds; and the business was dominated by commercial banks, not investment banks. At Salomon, Chang pioneered research that examined EM debt as an asset class-launching a career that took her to Merrill Lynch and then to J.P. Morgan, where she now manages a global credit research team of 170 people in 12 countries.

Her group supplies research and asset allocation recommendations for both developed and emerging markets and covers more than 1,700 corporates and banks in the United States, Europe and Japan. On the EM side, the group handles all macroeconomic forecasts, sovereign debt research and coverage of 350 corporates in the emerging economies of Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In 2010 and 2011, the team topped Institutional Investor's rankings for both EM sovereigns and economics, as well as EM strategy. Chang's international ties have led to an appointment to a corporate affairs committee with the Council of Foreign Affairs. She also is involved with policy analysis groups like the Inter-American Dialogue and the German Marshall Fund.
23. Carla Harris
Managing Director, Morgan Stanley

Carla Harris has said that she enjoys being part of an "older"-er, seasoned-generation of female professionals who can tell the next wave of women leaders about the career guideposts found by those who came before them. The advice is not necessarily meant to ease their path, but to help them recognize the challenges, mistakes and opportunities that are ahead of them.

Harris' own opportunities came at Morgan Stanley, where she started in 1987 in the M&A department and then moved to the equity syndicate desk, where she helped execute IPOs for corporates such as United Parcel Service. These days, she specializes in finding, capitalizing and advising emerging asset managers, with an emphasis on women-and minority-owned firms.

Giving of her time as a speaker and mentor, Harris is a positive presence on Wall Street for women and minorities, clear in her articulation of the challenges they face and of the idea that everyone must take responsibility for his or her own career advancement.
24. Martina Hund-Mejean
CFO, Mastercard Worldwide

In a trade magazine interview this year, Martina Hund-Mejean described the role of financial oversight at MasterCard as playing "a fantastic devil's advocate." In other words, the finance people at MasterCard are empowered to challenge the assumptions of their business line counterparts, and tasked with representing shareholders by analyzing even day-to-day decisions on a risk-return basis. "We've been able to make successful organic and inorganic investments only because the finance people were so embedded in the business units, to help them make the right calls," Hund-Mejean told Treasury & Risk magazine. Those principles have helped shape strong financial results for MasterCard, which in 2011 had healthy net revenue ($6.7 billion, up from $5.54 billion a year earlier) and strong earnings ($14.85 a share, up from $14.05), on transactional growth rates that were in the mid-to high-teens. Hund-Mejean, who has been with MasterCard since 2007, is a former finance executive for General Motors, Lucent Technology and Tyco International.
25. Julie Caperton
Head Of Asset-Backed Finance And Securitization, Wells Fargo Securities

Four years ago, when Julie Caperton chose to continue her Wachovia capital markets leadership role in the newly merged operations with Wells Fargo, she was warned by some that Wells was not interested in investment banking. Whether that had any semblance of truth, Caperton's performance in the past year must have made Wells grateful that it kept the securities unit intact. After increasing revenue by 21% and net income by 38% in 2011, Caperton's division reported more gains in the first quarter of 2012, with revenue up 22% year over year, net income up 35% and balance sheet assets up 29%. The division's 25% operating efficiency was the highest in the company as well. The results were fueled by new markets such as Europe and new products, such as nonperforming loan securitizations and a structured finance product for depository clients. Caperton's team also developed Wells' proposal to convert its foreclosed properties into rentals.