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Meet Marianne Lake, CFO of J.P. Morgan, the most impressive woman in finance

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Marianne Lake is the CFO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Low-key Marianne Lake, CFO of J.P. Morgan, has long been a bit of a mystery. Despite being a regular on J.P. Morgan’s conference calls, she’s tended to stay in the shadows behind the more ebullient Jamie Dimon. Now, however, 43- year-old Lake has stepped into the limelight with a witty presentation after being named the second most powerful woman in banking by American Banker magazine.

Lake is one cool woman. If you want to emulate her success, this is what you need to know.

She’s down to earth   

Lake didn’t study at an elite university. She’s a British physicist and studied Physics at Britain’s Reading University. Reading University ranked 37th on the Complete University Guide’s 2015 league table.

She’s very British 

In teetotal America, Lake isn’t afraid to allude to the British predilection for alcohol. “Last year, I was number three on the list and being number 3 is a pretty good spot – you’ve placed, you get a medal. and you get to sit down and drink through the speeches,” she said at the start of her speech to American Banker.

She’s just had twins

Sometime in the past year, Lake gave birth to twins. Given that she was present on the first quarter, second quarter and third quarter J.P. Morgan conference calls, we surmise she had fewer than three months off.

She’s a single mother  

Lake already had a three year old son, and was already a single mother. She’s a single mother still. In an interview with Marie Claire  a few years ago, she said: “I never worried about raising a kid on my own. I’m 42, not 20 with my eyes closed. The circumstances aren’t traditional, but I didn’t hesitate to do it.”

She’s a wit 

The finance industry has made mistakes, said Lake in her presentation: “We’ve acknowledged them, we’ve apologized for them and we’ve certainly paid for them.”

She’s a genuine supporter of other women 

“Cheers to all the exceptional ladies out there,” said Lake. “You ladies totally rock.”

How does she cope with being a single mother and the CFO of one of the biggest banks in the world? “You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at the same time,” said Lake. She added that you need a great team. that you can’t beat yourself up when you have to make difficult choices about work and family and that (said tongue in cheek), “Always remember that your good enough is actually exceptional.”

Most of all, Lake said working women shouldn’t beat themselves up about not being there for their children: “I really do believe that me working is important to my children – not just because it allows me to support them, but as someone who is intellectually curious, works very hard, and who loves what she does and is a better mother because of it. And I do love what I do.”

She wanted to be a movie star

“I was recently asked if I dreamed of being a CFO when I was little,” said Lake. “My reaction was to say God no, I wanted to be a movie star and I still do. I still do. This may be my breakthrough moment, you never know.”

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