Sallie Lee Krawcheck ’87, Distinguished Service Medal Citation

(Editor’s Note: The GAA’s Distinguished Service Medal citations, such as this one, are read to the audience at the Annual Alumni Luncheon and then presented as a keepsake to the recipients.)

Sallie Krawcheck ’87 jokes that she holds the world record of being the only woman to have been fired on the front page of The Wall Street Journal — twice. Forget what that says about the financial industry — the rarity of women in high-level posts on Wall Street and the outrage engendered by her standing firm on returning money to investors who had been hurt by an investment bank’s lack of transparency.

Sallie Krawcheck ’87

Sallie Krawcheck ’87 (Photo by Ray Black III)

Sallie put all that behind her by establishing and running three new businesses and writing a book.

All four ventures facilitate the success of women in the white-male-dominated field of financial investments. Her efforts may make the presence of women and ethics more routine in the C-suites of high finance.

Even with all she has going on, Sallie says “yes” when UNC calls. She has served on the Board of Visitors, the UNC Foundation Investment Board and the Global Leadership Council and joined committees focused on investments, global leadership and development.

She hosts Carolina alumni events at her home in New York. A member of the Morehead-Cain Central Selection Committee periodically since 2001, she has been the keynote speaker at the foundation’s finalists banquet and at its alumni forum. She addresses on-campus events such as the Carolina Women’s Leadership Conference. In 2014, she received the William Richardson Davie Award for service from UNC’s Board of Trustees.

Sallie has an uncommon ability to set aside obstacles and, without fanfare, do what needs to be done. The second of four smart, competitive, tightly spaced siblings who grew up in the house in Charleston, S.C., where her father was raised, Sallie transferred from an all-girls school to a coed high school and blossomed socially to the point that her guidance counselor sat her down and told her she could do better.

Organized, industrious and with a strong work ethic, Sallie buckled down and became the state’s Presidential Scholar, an honor that sent her to the White House to meet President Ronald Reagan. She accepted a Morehead Scholarship, despite her only prior contact with Carolina being that her younger brother went to Dean Smith’s basketball camp.

At UNC, she majored in journalism and wrote a controversial story for The Omnibus, an insert in The Daily Tar Heel, that received national attention. It was a moment of spreading her wings and realizing she could be successful. And allegiance to Carolina is spreading in her family. Daughter Katherine is a UNC sophomore, and Sallie’s brother, Johnny ’88, also has a daughter here.

An internship at an investment bank in London turned Sallie’s sights toward Wall Street. Salomon Bros. hired her as an investment banker, then she went to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. After earning an MBA from Columbia University, she discovered a knack for analyzing risk and signed on with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. as a stock analyst. She rose through the ranks, becoming executive vice president of Alliance Capital Management (Bernstein’s parent company), then CEO of Bernstein. In 2002, she took the CEO spot at Smith Barney.

By that point, Sallie was a legend on Wall Street. For several years running, Institutional Investor magazine named her its No. 1 analyst. Money magazine included her in its Ultimate Investment Club in back-to-back years. She made Time magazine’s list of Global Influentials. Fortune magazine listed her among its 50 Most Powerful Women in Business four times and featured her on its cover for the story “In Search of the Last Honest Analyst.” And she was still young enough in 2003 to receive the GAA’s Distinguished Young Alumna Award.

But her tenacious honesty upset some of the old guard, and in 2008, when she pushed Citigroup to help clients who had lost money on high-risk investments sold as low risk, Citigroup pushed her out.

Sallie regrouped and in 2013 bought 85 Broads, a global professional women’s network, now 65,000 members strong, that she rebranded as Ellevate. The company works to close the gender achievement gap by hosting networking events and giving career advice.

Shortly thereafter, she co-founded Ellevest, a digital investment platform to help women meet their financial goals. It has attracted $19 million in funding. Recently, she launched Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, which invests in companies that advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In January of this year, she published Own It, a career playbook for women that delineates new rules for success.

While her business acumen clearly has paved the way for her career achievements, so have her traits that can be traced back to her Southern roots: She’s personable, kind, engaging, generous and funny. She connects easily with others, despite being an introvert.

Sallie’s Instagram feed features selfies she has taken with leading women in business, a collection that speaks to her success every bit as much as cover photos on business magazines.

The GAA’s Distinguished Service Medal citations, such as this one, are read to the audience at the Annual Alumni Luncheon and then presented as a keepsake to the recipients.


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