I grew up in northern New Jersey, the youngest of five, which made me independent. At 15, I started working behind the counter at a deli making sandwiches and filling orders. I loved it. I thought I might open my own deli and offer catering one day. I developed a rapport with the customers and would have their usual orders ready when they walked in. People value that type of service. It was a good lesson in how developing relationships leads to getting more business. I stayed through my freshman year at the University of Delaware.

In 1994, I graduated with a degree in consumer economics. My sister knew someone in human resources at Chemical Bank and got me a job there training tellers. Then the bank announced it was merging with Chase, and my boss warned me she didn't know how this would affect us. A headhunter suggested I talk to Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, and I clicked with the person who interviewed me. He was starting a recruiting program at DLJ to attract MBAs as advisors. In 1996, he hired me to recruit for the program and to help run it. He had started with 12 new hires, and during my tenure I formalized the process and we increased that number to 50. Four years later, Credit Suisse bought DLJ. At the time, Credit Suisse didn't have a large private banking practice in the U.S. so Credit Suisse could leverage an already existing private banking practice, and we recognized early that we could leverage the global presence of Credit Suisse.

I was promoted to vice president when the tech bubble burst. From 2001 to 2003, I wore a number of different hats, and in 2003 my boss was let go. I was shocked, but I was fortunate enough to be asked to stay on and start working on alternative investments. Most of our platform was either proprietary products—private equity and privately managed hedge funds—or third party products. We hired a number of third party hedge fund of fund managers and grew the assets in hedge funds by 75%. I was appointed Director of Private Banking in 2005. In 2007, the company asked a managing director from another group to head the alternative investments group, and two other executives asked me to stay on and help him. I agreed, but it was difficult for me. Now I see that my supporters knew I'd do well. My new boss was older and had gravitas, which was helpful when we met new clients. I felt as though we actually ran the group as co-heads, and together we expanded the platform to include more alternative investment products for our clients. In 2011, I was promoted to Head of Alternative Investments.

When I talk to young people about career paths, I tell them that mine was not planned and that they need to realize how important networking and building relationships is. I didn't consciously do that, but I had worked with a lot of group heads, and people knew I worked hard and I'd do a good job. In my free time I run along the Jersey shore. It clears my head, and when I'm done I can devote myself full time to my two children and my husband.ows

As told to Pat Olsen