“It would be very hard to get bored in this job,” declares ­Jessica Reif Cohen, noting that change is the only constant — and that’s the way she likes it. “The fun stuff is when there’s a lot of deals — a lot of change, a lot of turmoil. That makes it ­interesting.”

The analyst has had a front-row seat for a period of dramatic change among the companies she covers, broadly defined as the media universe. Originally focused primarily on broadcasters, over the years her coverage has expanded to include cable and satellite companies, digital media and related industries — not to mention all of the merger-and-­acquisition activities of such big names as Comcast Corp., News Corp., Time Warner and ­Viacom. “She has great industry knowledge and wonderful contacts,” one backer told ­Institutional Investor in 2000.

Reif Cohen earned an MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business, then joined Oppenheimer & Co. as an equity analyst in 1992. That same year she debuted on the All-­America Research Team, as a runner-up in Broadcasting — the first of 39 appearances (and counting; Reif Cohen is a runner-up this year in Media), including 14 honors in the winner’s circle. She moved to Merrill Lynch in 1994 and has been with the firm — now BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research — ever since.

What does Reif Cohen like best about her job? The fact that every day is different. She admits that she’s less enthusiastic about how frequently she finds herself in airports and how difficult it can be to juggle spending time with her two kids, exercising and working — but, on balance, she considers herself lucky to be following such a shape-­shifting industry.      

Go Back to the Hall of Fame