The millionaire mentor

Janet Hanson 54, founder of 85 Broads, Greenwich, Conn.

By Anne Fisher , Fortune senior writer

(Fortune Magazine) -- For two decades Janet Hanson was a typical Wall Street workaholic. She started her career at Goldman Sachs in 1977 straight out of Columbia Business School, quickly mastered the 18-hour day, and became the first woman promoted to sales management.

Then, after 14 years, she struck out on her own, forming a money-management firm called Milestone Capital. While she loved running her own show, Hanson realized that she deeply missed all the accomplished women and mentors she'd had at Goldman. So she dreamed up 85 Broads - a play on Goldman's Manhattan street address - as an old-girls' network for current and former Goldman bankers.

Once the group started meeting, however, it found a bigger mission: helping young women pursue careers in business. "I wanted to see whether women could help each other and support each other's careers the way men do," she says. "And it's clear that, given the right framework, they can." That framework involves hosting networking seminars on college campuses, introducing people she thinks might pair up nicely as mentor and protégé, and putting together special events like a recent fundraiser for a clinic in Lwala, Kenya. The group has evolved beyond Goldman alums to include college undergrads and B-school students, with more than 15,000 members in all. Hanson, who is still chairman of the board at Milestone Capital and a part-time advisor to the president of Lehman Brothers, finances the group's $1.8 million operating budget (including a staff of 12) out of her own pocket. "For me, the thrill is seeing girls who are still in school see their opportunities as limitless. Just gun the engine and go for it."  Top of page