NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Priya Misra is hardly fazed by an industry dominated by men, and so far that has served her well on Wall Street.
As head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's (BAC) U.S. rates research, Misra, at 33 years old, is one of 10 senior women in macro research at the bank. Misra was ranked in the top three of government debt analysts in Institutional Investor's All-America Fixed Income Research team surveys from 2003 to 2008.
|Priya Misra, rates strategist at Bank of America.|
After graduating with a master's degree in finance from the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore in 2001, she started work as an interest rate strategist at Lehman Brothers and eventually rose to director at Barclays Capital before she left. After a brief stint at Nomura Securities, Misra joined Bank of America in January 2010.When asked about whether she had any women role models early on in her career, Misra pauses and says actually she didn't actively seek out any women to look up to. "This industry is very meritocratic. It about doing hard work," she said in an interview. "Women don't cut any corners and you shouldn't expect them to." Senior female executives are rare on Wall Street. Only 8% of most senior bankers are women, according to Financial News, which surveyed 20 investment banks. That's only an average of less than one woman at the executive committee level at each bank. The departure of a top-ranking woman from her perch often renews the media discussion on the thin ranks of women in finance as well as how the ones that do survive either learn to balance work and family life. The chances of women filling executive posts seem slim given that there are few women in the rungs below. The overwhelming ratio of men in the finance doesn't escape Candace Browning, head of research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who hired and now overseas Misra and her team. If more than 50% of college graduates are women, then there should be more women in the field, says Browning. In hiring for Bank of America, she says, "I approach it as a bottom up proposition." Browning said that Priya Misra caught her attention because she was analytical but also had the right personality for a client-facing role. "Priya is intellectually very strong and is attentive to what clients want," says Browning. "She's constantly on the road visiting clients all over the world." From India to Wall Street Misra was lucky to land at Lehman Brothers. Back in the early 2000s, there was barely a fixed income market in her home country, India. Even the stock market in India hadn't taken off until the late 1990s. The U.S. however, was going through a recession, so demand for government bonds was strong, and the fixed income market was expanding quickly. The competitive process that resulted in a ticket abroad essentially opened the door for Misra. Ravi Mattu, who spearheaded Lehman's first foray into recruiting graduates from India and is now global head of analytics at Pimco, said that at the time, there were few opportunities for graduates from India to work for Western banks. The only banks recruiting in India at the time were Lehman, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank and everyone in my class applied to them, recalls Misra. "I returned to my dorm after the first round interview because I figure there was a low chance. Someone had to wake me up
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