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As President of Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF) I had the privilege of working with and interviewing several remarkable leaders. I also received counsel, insights & wisdom from my Advisory Board Members. Among them was Marisa Drew, Co-Head EMEA Investment Banking and Global Co-Head Global Market Solutions, Credit Suisse Securities.

Marisa was the keynote speaker at our awards ceremony and shared her inspiring story. She has so many impressive accolades and accomplishments, yet these are not what make her a compelling leader for me. What really matters is that Marisa is grounded. She cares about what she does and her people. She tirelessly gives her best, is generous and has a sense of fun.

She revealed candidly that her path to being acknowledged as one of the leading investment bankers in Europe is not straightforward. She hadn’t started out with an aspiration to have a financial services career. As a child she dabbled at multiple interests and maths wasn’t her top grade.

Marisa had several ambitions and tried out many different roles. However, she was easily bored and didn’t stick at them. She believed big companies and government were bureaucratic and slow. So she wanted to control her own destiny by becoming an entrepreneur. She “fell into banking” as a way to learn about corporate finance and to help her understand what entrepreneurs face. As an entrepreneur she was stressed, lonely, the stage wasn’t big enough to make a difference and she had a flawed business plan.

At that point she sold her business and took “a hard look at myself”. She reflected deeply on what she needed to be energised, to keep her attention and bring out her best. She then joined leveraged finance. Its fast pace kept her in contact with entrepreneurs, new industries and challenged her intellectually every day.

Marisa has a higher purpose. As she says 30 years later she still gets “a thrill providing the life blood of capital to companies – being a partner in their growth – there is no greater satisfaction than delivering for clients.  Today what motivates me is being in a position to be an agent of change and reshape the banking landscape”

 Her keys to success:

  • Don’t be afraid to try out many things and then focus on what you are passionate about.
  • Check your “happiness quotient” regularly. If you are not enthused you won’t be effective.
  • Look for greater motivation than money alone. It won’t satisfy you.
  • Treat a setback as an opportunity to learn, become better and help you grow.
  • Have lots of varied and outside interests which will keep you sharper and help you connect with clients.
  • Find a supportive partner who celebrates your successes.

Do you have a sense of purpose, are you challenged and thrilled by your work? Or is it time to re-assess and make significant changes in how you approach and engage with your current role or look elsewhere?

If you would like to explore these issues with a thought partner who will help you keep accountable contact me at + 44 (0) 7952 068133 or