Most Powerful Women

Ex-Lehman CFO Erin Callan stirs the pot on women and work

March 11, 2013: 11:41 AM ET
Erin Callan

Erin Callan

Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer aren't the only ones stirring up debate about women in the workplace.

Sunday's New York Times featured an unexpected guest writer: former Lehman Brothers (BCS) CFO Erin Callan on "Is There Life After Work?"

As you may recall, ex-Lehman CEO Dick Fuld pushed out Callan and President Joe Gregory in June 2008, four months before Lehman crashed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Callan did a short stint at Credit Suisse, quit that job, and never looked back. I profiled Callan in Fortune in early 2010. In late 2011, she married Anthony Montella, her firefighter boyfriend whom she knew from high school.

It may be a sign of the times that Callan's New York Times essay is generating buzz--more than Callan, now 47, anticipated, she told me in an email this morning. "I wrote the piece because I felt it was important for young women to know there is no magic formula to 'have it all,'" she said in her email.

Doesn't Callan's prescription for happiness--essentially, fall off the perch, lean back, and learn "how to live a life"--counter the empowerment message that Sandberg delivers in her new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead?

Sandberg is being interviewed tonight in New York at an event hosted by Time Magazine, which has her on its current cover. I'll ask Sandberg and let you know tomorrow.

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Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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