The Definitive Guide to Business

Top JPMorgan exec shares her single-best piece of career advice

Making it on Wall Street is no cake walk.

CNBC asked one of the most powerful players in the industry — JPMorgan Asset Management CEO Mary Callahan Erdoes — for her best career advice.

Whether you're switching jobs, moving within a company or starting your own, "you have to be a subject matter expert in something," she said. "Not everything but in something."


Mary Callahan Erdoes, chief executive officer of asset management at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mary Callahan Erdoes, chief executive officer of asset management at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Rather than being a generalist, she recommends honing in on a topic. "Go very, very, very deep into a subject. Know more than anybody else will know on that subject. Obsess about it."

If your boss or team recognizes that you can dive deep into a specific subject matter, "they will give you more responsibilities," Erdoes said. "They will give you other opportunities to expand, to take on other challenges and to learn other things."

It certainly worked for the high-powered CEO, who reportedly earned over $16 million last year.

"I was a municipal bond research specialist," Erdoes recalled. "And I could tell you everything about every single default in the municipal world: What worked, what didn't, why, when, lessons learned."

That's why she gives every new analyst and associate the same advice: "Don't try to be a jack of all trades. Know one thing better than everybody else."