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Spotlight

Erin Callan

The most powerful woman on Wall Street occupies one of finance’s most public perches, said Susanne Craig in The Wall Street Journal. Erin Callan, the chief financial officer of investment bank Lehman Brothers, saw her standing leap in March after she “coolly” handled analysts’ questions about the firm’s financial condition. At the time, speculation was swirling that Lehman would follow Bear Stearns into oblivion. But after her reassuring performance on the analysts’ conference call, Lehman shares surged 46 percent, even though Callan had just announced that Lehman had lost billions on mortgage securities. Callan, 42, has no accounting background, a rarity among CFOs. Trained as a lawyer and investment banker, she relies on “data from the trading-floor contacts built during her 13-year Lehman career.” She also has an unusually high profile for a CFO, logging dozens of appearances on CNBC and other business outlets. It helps that Callan “is undeniably fashionable.” Star Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney calls her the “best accessorized” CFO on Wall Street. Not that she has much competition.

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