Anu Aiyengar is one of the most powerful women on Wall Street.

She is head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s  (JPM)  North America Mergers and Acquisitions business, which was the #1 ranked advisor in total number of announced deals in 2016.

She has been involved in over $500 billion worth of transactions including mergers, acquisitions, leveraged buyouts and hostile transactions. And she has led some of the biggest deals in American business - like the $11 billion sale of the New York Stock Exchange to Intercontinental Exchange  (ICE)  and the $4.6 billion of Petco to a private equity group. More recently, she advised Walmart Stores Inc.  (WMT)  on its $2.9 billion purchase of Jet.com.

Listen to her keen insights into the M&A environment below, but no surprise, she believes that "while the market is by no means dried up, having more certainty around the regulatory environment would super charge it."

One of the biggest trends she is seeing in M&A is the "cross-section of different industries...industrial companies pursuing tech...tech pursuing consumer retail."

She points to deals like Amazon.com Inc.  (AMZN) and Whole Foods Market Inc.  (WFM) , Walmart and Jet.com and Samsung's acquisition of Harman

 

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone more ingrained in the M&A world than Aiyengar (Eye-YEN-Gar).

And yet someone once told her she couldn't be hired because she was "the wrong gender, wrong color and wrong country" and would therefore never make it on Wall Street.

We would just love to meet that person today.

Her rise to the top is just as impressive as her credentials. As a young girl in India, she had the strength and courage to come to America -- alone.

With the help of the United States-India Education Foundation, she got herself a three-year scholarship to Smith College in Massachusetts. And yes, she finished her degree in three years and eventually got her MBA from Vanderbilt University.

She joined JPMorgan as an associate in 1999 and one of the things that attracted her most to the firm was meeting with multi-cultural staff members during her interview process.

Today, Aiyengar continues to encourage diversity within the firm and has a mission to bring in more women. She started the "Winning Women" program to help identify and recruit women from 30 different undergraduate and business schools.

There actually was a female intern helping out at our interview that day and once we were off camera, Aiyengar was valiantly trying to convince her to come work for the firm full-time.

If that girl was smart, she took the job.

For more from Tracy Byrnes and Alpha Rising:

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