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On March 14, a 12-year veteran of Goldman Sachs named Greg Smith quit his job. When he did, he took the extra step of submitting an op-ed piece to The New York Times that detailed his reasons. Titled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” the article pulled no punches in its description of the company’s environment as “toxic and destructive.”

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein and COO Gary D. Cohn responded via an internal memo that said “the assertions made by this individual… do not reflect our values, our culture and how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think about the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients.”

According to Reuters, Smith nabbed a $1.5 million book deal from Grand Central publishing. He's not the first person to leave Wall Street behind to find opportunity elsewhere. Many people have left careers in finance and found fulfillment in other areas, and many of them say their financial-sector background gave them an edge in starting a new venture.

Read ahead to find out about seven former financial sector executives who left it all behind, started over and found success.

By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 6 June 2012

Paul McGee | Getty Images