A career managing a billion-dollar investment portfolio was nowhere on Paula Wieck's radar when she was a personal trainer in college.

Her concentration in nutrition was simple: she wanted people to learn how to manage their health and fight obesity. But after hearing her clients discuss their ongoing struggles with managing money, her focus shifted.

"So many people are forced to be aware of their health because they have to have regular physicals or health insurance," she says. "But people aren't necessarily forced to confront their finances, and I think that's where they get into trouble."

Now, Wieck manages CLS' investment and portfolio research team, in addition to co-managing three AdvisorOne multi-asset mutual funds. Prior to her joining CLS in 2006, Wieck was an equity analyst at TD Ameritrade and a implementation specialist at Orion Advisor Services.

She currently manages the portfolio research team, having built the company's research analytics team from scratch in 2012. She notes few women are charter holders, but having a female executive could improve portfolio quality.

"Research shows companies with strong female leadership have performed about 36% better in terms of return on equity than companies where female leadership is lacking," she wrote for Morningstar.

In addition to being honored by this year's award, Wieck says it is important to continue building women up.

"I think we've made great strides to get women in these positions so far — in science, technology, engineering and finance included — but it starts with our young girls and directing them to these kind of careers."

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