Women are the foot soldiers of the business world, but they are rarely the generals. So it’s worth asking why no female has been as successful in scaling Wall Street as Sallie Krawcheck, Bank of America’s (BAC) wealth management chief. While other women struggle to avoid the “glass cliff,” she barely walks into a bank before she is groomed as a future CEO.
Krawcheck is best known for the kind of media adoration you can’t buy—for instance, that famous cover story from Fortune magazine, “In Search of the Last Honest Analyst.” But her rise began well before—and was speedy. In six years Krawcheck went from junior banker at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette to chief executive of research firm Alliance Bernstein. She clocked just two years at Citigroup (C) before becoming CFO in 2004. Nine months after a falling-out with Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit in 2008, she was back in the game with a better deal: Bank of America wooed Krawcheck, just 45, to run its mammoth brokerage. And within six weeks on the job, she was named as a possible successor for its departing CEO. But as successful as she has been in winning over the media, interviews with former colleagues show Krawcheck has been just as effective in winning over her peers, too. Her rise has not been flawless and is still not assured after her troubled turn as Citi CFO. But it is very real.
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