Abby Johnson's greatest career challenge


Bloomberg Businessweek pronounces Abby Johnson the "most powerful woman in finance."

The crown is heavy, as more than a few felt the crown topple not long after they donned it. Abby Johnson, the president of massive but troubled Fidelity Investments since August, has certainly earned the title, though she probably cares little for it. In her 24 years at Fidelity, she has done everything she needed to do to successfully run the company. That includes a bout with a serious illness in 2007 that remains a mystery.

She now faces her biggest challenges of reinvigorating a faltering brand and reviving a company that has made huge strategic mistakes, like ignoring the ETF trend. As a private company, outsiders have always yearned for more information about the Johnston family. She will not likely change her private ways, but she no doubt had a hand in the preparation of the profile in Bloomberg Businessweek, which sheds light on her management style (more collaborative than you would think) and her long preparation period (she's now savvy speaking in public).

How she goes about reinventing the company will be one of the great industry stories going forward. I can only hope her gender proves to be a huge advantage as the company courts more women as customers.

The issue of when she will completely take over may be decided soon.

"Fidelity has said Ned Johnson has no plans to retire, making it hard to predict how long his lion-in-winter phase will last. It won't last forever. In April, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce dinner honored the Johnson family for their contribution to the city. It was a rare public appearance for Ned Johnson, who looked frail."

Abby accepted the award for the family.

For more:
- here's the fascinating profile


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