As a child, Laura Roche thought she wanted to be a psychologist. In the end she chose a different path, deciding to major in accounting at New York’s Fordham University. But a gift for understanding people would come to serve her well in her business career. After graduation in 1992, Roche, who was raised on Long Island, where her father worked for Nassau County and her mother was a secretary, began working for accounting firm Ernst & Young. But she was interested in the hedge fund industry and wanted to get more involved in the operating side of the business, so she got a job in prime brokerage at Morgan Stanley & Co. in New York, where she was a senior associate and team leader. The hedge fund and prime brokerage businesses were starting to explode in assets and importance, and Roche loved the work. In 2001 she made the natural transition to working directly at hedge funds. In 2012 she became COO and CFO and a founding member of the team of $3.3 billion Roystone Capital Management, a New York–based hedge fund firm headed by Richard Barrera. Central to Roche’s role is helping to develop and lead the business, and knowing how to be a leader. The 45-year-old, who has an MBA from New York University, makes giving back a priority too: She has taught at Fordham and serves on the advisory board of its business school and Stoked Mentoring, a Brooklyn–based nonprofit that seeks to help at-risk youth. Roche is also an occasional surfer.