In the late 1990s, Bill Contente and Elizabeth Myers sat a couple of cubicles from each other in the Manhattan offices of J.P. Morgan & Co., where last summer they were named co-heads of equity capital markets for the Americas. The investment bank wasn’t the biggest ECM player in those days, but for the two friends that spelled opportunity. Both stayed with J.P. Morgan, which was scraping together market share. Myers, 40, who’d taken a break to get an MBA from Harvard University, worked as an analyst and then an associate at the firm, eventually settling into finance. “There were some sectors that people perceived as hot,” the Detroit native says, and finance wasn’t one of them. By her mid-30s, Myers led the  financial institutions team.

After graduating from Yale University with an economics degree in 1991, Contente joined J.P. Morgan and hit the road, working on M&A deals and IPOs in Latin America and Europe as well as on the West Coast. He spent some time in New York in the late ’90s before moving back permanently in 2000, the year his firm became JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Under CEO Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan used the financial crisis to grow from an also-ran to a dominant force in equity capital markets. In 2008, Contente was busy with Visa’s $19.65 billion offering, the largest IPO at that time, when capital markets began to unravel. “We priced it two days after JPMorgan acquired Bear Stearns,” he says of the Visa offering, which was still a roaring success. In November 2008 a deal coordinated by JPMorgan for Wells Fargo & Co. was increased to $12.6 billion, making it the richest non-IPO offering in U.S. history. That came during the biggest two-day drop in U.S. equity markets since 1987. Late-inning home runs like those helped JPMorgan reach No. 2 in global equity and equity-linked issuances for 2008, with $59.5 billion in deal value, according to Dealogic.

The crisis devastated IPOs, plunging U.S. value to $17 billion in 2009 from $60 billion two years earlier. But the ECM team at JPMorgan pulled through, as Myers’s out-of-fashion financial sector returned to the limelight, pushing the bank to the top of the equity league tables for the year with $94.4 billion worth of global equity deals, compared with $76.5 billion for second-place Goldman Sachs Group.