Katharine Plourde, a ten-time, first-team winner in the Chemicals/Specialty sector, was an English major at Barnard College considering a career as an English professor when a mentor an English professor, no less steered her to the business world. She earned an MBA from Fordham University and took a job following conglomerates at U.S. Trust Corp., where she found her liberal arts training digging through research to uncover patterns and trends was a valuable asset.
Doing the research was the part I really loved, she says. I enjoyed talking to clients because you learned so much it made you a better researcher and analyst.
After a stint at Dean Witter Reynolds, where she debuted on the All-America team as a runner-up in Chemicals/Specialty in 1985, Plourde joined Drexel Burnham Lambert the following year and rose to the No. 1 ranking in 1987. She held on to the top spot after moving to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. in 1990 and fondly recalls the benefits of her decadelong run in first place. If you developed influence within an industry sector and that was reflected in an II ranking, you could bring more commission revenues to your firm, perhaps bring more banking business to the firm, and the traders would listen to you a little harder too, she says.
Seeking more flexibility in her business life following the birth of her second child, in 1997, Plourde, 59, left DLJ and now sits on the boards of two companies she had followed: Pall Corp., a filtration company, and OM Group, a specialty-chemicals producer.
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