by Lauren Gibbons Paul

20/20 HONOREES – Dawn Lepore

Oct 01, 20022 mins

Vice Chairman of Technology, Operations and Administration

The Charles Schwab Corp.

Dawn Lepore’s savvy has not gone unnoticed in the Charles Schwab executive circle. Last December, co-CEOs Charles Schwab and David Pottruck expanded Lepore’s role, adding operations and administration to her already considerable responsibilities. As vice chairman, Lepore took on the added duties with her trademark gusto, despite equally momentous responsibilities at home. Lepore has a 6-month-old baby girl as well as a 4-year-old son. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, but if anyone can do it all, Dawn Lepore can.

After 19 years at Schwab, she has an innate understanding of the company’s mission, which she helped develop, and the direction of the industry. “I think Schwab has several times over helped shape the financial services industry,” says Lepore, 48, from her office in San Francisco. “It’s very exciting. That’s the reason I come to work every day.”

Lepore has been there through it all?through Schwab’s industry-first introduction of a no-load mutual fund, its debut of a comprehensive customer extranet and its development of expanded advice options for investors. “I do feel very proud of the role I’ve played in all of this,” she says.

She attributes her success to a willingness to take risks. When colleagues at other companies questioned the Schwab decision to invest heavily in Web training in 1995, Lepore was surprised at their reaction. “I always felt the Internet was here to stay. I was willing to take a calculated risk, as long as it would help our clients,” she says.

Lepore admits she’s good at seeing the big picture. “But I don’t wake up and say, I’m a visionary,” she says. “Sometimes I can’t believe the path I’ve taken through this company. I do have to stop and pinch myself sometimes.”