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JPMorgan's Mary Callahan Erdoes: The other reason to work hard when you're young

When Jamie Dimon retires, Mary Callahan Erdoes may replace him. The head of the bank's asset and wealth management unit is one of several names on Dimon's unofficial succession list, alongside Daniel Pinto, Marianne Lake, Jennifer Piepszak and Troy Rohrbaugh.

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If Callahan Erdoes succeeds Dimon, though, JPMorgan juniors should probably not expect too much sympathy about working hours. Erdoes is on the record explaining that junior bankers work "12-hour days six days a week" so that they can achieve "mastery" before their training programs are over.

In a largely ignored interview two and a half months ago with two students at Georgetown University, her alma mater, 56 year-old Erdoes elaborated further on this enthusiasm for working long hours when you're young. "When you're younger you don't need as much sleep, you can you know - burn the candle at both ends, as they say," she observed. 

Erdoes also said that "giving it all" when you're young enables you to "ramp up that curve really fast and really steep." The faster and steeper you do this, the sooner you'll be the boss, said Erdoes. And once you're the boss she said you'll "create the time for your own meetings" and "set the agenda." 

The implication is that, as the boss, you will have to work less hard. 

Erdoes graduated from Georgetown in 1989 and first worked for Bankers Trust before joining JPMorgan as a portfolio manager in 1996 and getting a Harvard MBA in between.

Erdoes told the Georgetown students that starting your in banking is simply about getting into finance and big financial institutions, after which there are multiple different paths you can take. The most valuable things to learn at university are how to pitch and how to negotiate a trade, she added: with this you can "do just about anything in life."

Erdoes noted that most banks now hire 50% women and 50% men at analyst level. Zoom has changed everything, she said (even though JPMorgan likes senior people in the office full time). To the extent that it's going to be dominated by anyone in the future, Erdoes declared that banking will be owned by people who want to, "work hard and really make a difference." 

There's a theme here. And yet Erdoes also says you don't have to work crazily hard if you're disinclined to: there are times in your life when you'll have other priorities, but maybe work should be the priority before these times arrive.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ju
    6 June 2024

    To be clear, I don't think she works any less than she did as a junior person, her time is just spent differently. She has different and many larger responsibilities. Making decisions that affect so many people, especially during times of financial crisis, is an immense amount of pressure. She's correct however that you need to invest your time when you are a junior person. Every meeting and everything you do is a learning opportunity. I dedicated my 20s to investment banking and now I'm a JPM Private Bank client. It pays off but you have to want it and put in the time.

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