Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

The Road Taken, but Not Sought

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

The Road Taken, but Not Sought

Article excerpt

THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK about the election of Elizabeth Duke to the chairmanship of the ABA. How could there not be? She'll be the first woman to lead the association in its 129-year history.

It's interesting that Betsy Duke was chosen because she is not a person who pays much attention to political correctness, though she is not above using it to advance the interests of the industry. She did not even seek the ABA office--not initially. Her own attributes, however, made her an obvious candidate once her name came up.

Not seeking things, she told us during the interviews conducted for the cover story, is part of how she was raised. "You wait to be asked," she said.

Some women, no doubt, will cringe when they read that.

Waiting to be asked is quaint and polite, they'll say, but totally unrealistic for a woman in today's world. They obviously don't know Betsy Duke. She's polite, but quaint would never be a word used to describe her.

Some situations call for direct intervention, obviously. And if overthrow of convention is your goal, you aren't going to ask permission to do it. But the people best suited for a groundbreaking role are not often those who claim to be the one to do it. What frequently is overlooked is that people who are asked earn that privilege by dint of ability and hard work.

Duke never had a career strategy, nor a plan in mind to become the first woman ABA chairman. What she did all along was take hold of each opportunity presented to her--whether it was learning to balance the Fed account, or giving testimony to Congress--with a focus and an energy that virtually guaranteed there would be more opportunities. …

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