Royal Dutch Shell Group .com

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: THE JOURNAL REPORT: WOMEN TO WATCH: In Line to Lead: “9. Linda Cook: Executive Director, Gas and Power, Royal Dutch/Shell Group”: In May, the twin boards of Royal Dutch/Shell Group tapped Linda Cook to fill out the company's top management team -- decimated earlier in the year by forced exits in the wake of the company's accounting scandal.”: "We know that reputation is not restored overnight, and it will only come through delivery of the commitments that we've made with respect to performance," says the 46-year-old Ms. Cook.: “She served in Canada just one year, surviving an embarrassing reduction in estimated reserves at the unit's once-promising gas fields off the coast of Nova Scotia. The reduction was unrelated to Shell's groupwide reserve accounting scandal. ( 8 Nov 04


November 8, 2004; Page R5


1. Karen Katen

President, Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals


With Pfizer Inc.'s chairman and chief executive, Henry McKinnell, set to step down in early 2008, Karen Katen has the pole position in the race to succeed him.


Like Mr. McKinnell before his promotion, the 55-year-old Ms. Katen runs the company's prescription-drug unit, with more than $46 billion in sales expected this year. An outsider hasn't led Pfizer since its founding 155 years ago; Ms. Katen has never worked anywhere else.


She has seen Pfizer in good times and bad. The New York-based company is the world's largest drug maker by sales, but it wasn't even among the top 10 as recently as 1990. Ms. Katen helped change that by bringing to market a slew of medicines that became blockbusters.


After joining the company in 1974 as a marketing manager, she plotted the launches of the blood-pressure pill Procardia and the anti-inflammatory Feldene, Pfizer's first $1 billion seller. These hit drugs of the 1980s started Pfizer on the path to being an industry heavyweight.


In 1992, Ms. Katen oversaw the rollout of three drugs that propelled Pfizer up the industry ladder. The trio of antidepressant Zoloft, antibiotic Zithromax and blood-pressure pill Norvasc became huge hits, together selling more than $7 billion last year. All told, Ms. Katen shepherded 10 Pfizer medicines to market during the 1990s.


"It was these incredible launches that built great expectations" for growth at Pfizer, she said during a recent interview in her office, where a menagerie of fanciful wooden animal figurines, most bought on trips to Latin America, decorate the black granite windowsill behind her desk.


Capping the decade of expansion, Pfizer bought Warner-Lambert Co., discoverer of cholesterol fighter Lipitor, in 2000. Pfizer has invested more than $700 million on clinical tests since Lipitor was approved for marketing, a hallmark of Pfizer's brand building. "The wall of science that's been created for Lipitor is a strong example of what you can do with the proper investment and commitment," Ms. Katen says. "The investment starts very early and goes on forever." The results from some of those studies have helped make Lipitor the world's biggest-selling drug, with more than $10 billion in revenue expected this year.


Ms. Katen had a hand in the integration of Warner-Lambert's operations into Pfizer, a combination that made Pfizer the world's biggest drug company. She reprised the role after the purchase of Pharmacia Corp. last year. New products and cost cutting from those mergers have helped Pfizer get through a protracted dry spell in its drug laboratories. The last big hit from Pfizer scientists was Viagra, introduced in 1998.


Beyond Pfizer's core business, Ms. Katen has tackled the policy issues that have dogged the industry. She's behind Pfizer's initiative to provide free or deeply discounted medicines to Americans who don't have insurance coverage for drugs.


The week after Merck & Co. withdrew its painkiller Vioxx from the market, Ms. Katen observed that making pharmaceuticals is "a risky business." For now, Pfizer is benefiting from Vioxx's departure as many patients move to Celebrex and Bextra. But Pfizer has had setbacks, too, though none as dramatic as Vioxx. An antibiotic called Trovan, which was one of Ms. Katen's biggest drug launches in the 1990s, was hobbled when liver problems surfaced during widespread use. Withdrawn from general use, Trovan is still available in some markets for hospitalized patients with infections that have failed to respond to treatment with other antibiotics.


The latest challenge for Ms. Katen is to keep Pfizer growing. The company is facing generic competition for some of its biggest products. This year Diflucan, an antifungal, and Neurontin, a seizure medication, came under attack from copycat generic drugs. By 2007, Zoloft, Zithromax and Norvasc will have lost their patent protection, too. Pfizer has started rolling out Lyrica, a successor to Neurontin, in Europe, and is awaiting U.S. approval of the drug. Other promising medicines in development include varenicline, a smoking-cessation pill that simulates nicotine without the kick, and torcetrapib, which raises good cholesterol.


Pfizer will continue to emphasize the treatment of cardiovascular disease. And the need for effective medicines will continue to rise as the rates of diabetes and high blood pressure climb world-wide, Ms. Katen says.


--Scott Hensley


2. Marjorie Magner

Chairman and Chief Executive, Global Consumer Group, Citigroup


Inside the headquarters of the world's largest financial-services firm, only two executives cast a longer shadow than Marjorie Magner.


As chairman and chief executive of Citigroup Inc.'s global consumer group, Ms. Magner oversees more than 150,000 employees in 54 countries, and is responsible for 120 million customers. Last year, her unit notched $9.6 billion in profit.


Ms. Magner, whose job requires her to log plenty of flight time visiting Citigroup outposts around the world, says the rule for such visits is, "If it isn't better when you leave, you shouldn't have showed up."


"I don't think anyone appreciates the magnitude of that job," says Robert Willumstad, Citigroup's president and chief operating officer. If Ms. Magner's unit were a stand-alone public company, he says, it would be one of the world's 10 largest.


The 55-year-old Ms. Magner cracked the inner circle of executives now running Citigroup -- all longtime associates of its chairman, Sanford Weill -- thanks in part to connections she cemented early in her career. The daughter of a Brooklyn police lieutenant, Ms. Magner was the first woman M.B.A. hired at New York's Chemical Bank, where she met Mr. Willumstad. She followed him in 1987 to Commercial Credit, a Baltimore-based consumer-finance company that Mr. Weill had taken over.


"We all come from similar backgrounds. We all come from Brooklyn," Mr. Willumstad says. "There's a certain affinity there."


Ms. Magner didn't just survive the series of acquisitions through which Mr. Weill created Citigroup -- she thrived. Before stepping down as chief executive last year, Mr. Weill chose her to succeed Mr. Willumstad as head of Citigroup's important global consumer operations.


Citigroup already holds a formidable market share in credit cards. One of Ms. Magner's mandates is to boost Citigroup's slice of the U.S. retail banking market, where it lags behind rivals such as Bank of America Corp. "We're significantly underrepresented," she concedes.


Citigroup currently has 776 retail banking branches in eight states and Washington, D.C. It remains far behind Bank of America, the industry leader, which following its acquisition of FleetBoston Financial Corp. counts about 5,700 banking centers in 29 states.


Ms. Magner says she has no desire to plant the Citigroup flag in all 50 states. Rather, she aims to get stronger in a far smaller footprint. She recently signed a deal for a 100-branch private bank in Texas, where Citigroup has long coveted a presence. She says she intends to beef up Citigroup's presence there, as well as in Florida, California, and the Northeast.


When she visits Citigroup's far-flung global outposts in 53 other countries, she says, she always holds town-hall-style meetings for local employees. And she always makes time for breakfast with Citigroup's senior women at the site. Gender, she says, is an important issue at Citigroup. "I think I would be particularly remiss if I didn't meet with them."


--Mitchell Pacelle


3. Indra Nooyi

President and Chief Financial Officer, PepsiCo


Indra Nooyi, second in command at PepsiCo Inc., has played a key role in remaking the snack and beverage giant. And she isn't done yet.


The 49-year-old president and chief financial officer helped spin off Pepsi's restaurant and bottling businesses and lobbied for the 1998 acquisition of juice maker Tropicana. But her biggest moment came in late 2000 when she was one of the lead negotiators on the $13.8 billion acquisition of Quaker Oats Co. and its prized Gatorade brand. Many industry analysts credit the Quaker acquisition with accelerating Pepsi's diversification beyond soft drinks and salty snacks and putting the Purchase, N.Y., company on a solid growth track.


Ms. Nooyi's tenacity and savvy strategic thinking on the Quaker deal were rewarded in May 2001 when she was given the additional title of president and joined the Pepsi board. That put her on track to someday succeed PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Reinemund.


Raised in a middle-class family in India, Ms. Nooyi joined Pepsi in 1994 after stints as a corporate strategist at Motorola Inc. and Asea Brown Boveri Inc. She remains a director at Motorola.


Some analysts think Pepsi may give Ms. Nooyi an operations role running one of Pepsi's snack or beverage units to give her more seasoning for the top job, but it doesn't appear to be a prerequisite for the corner office.


In addition to her duties as finance chief, she is focused on revamping the company's internal systems in a multiyear technology upgrade that promises to give PepsiCo a faster read on business trends and help it tackle future acquisitions. She and other executives also explore "new growth platforms," including efforts to make healthier foods more convenient as obesity becomes a bigger issue globally.


A tough, plain-spoken boss, Ms. Nooyi is also known for her humor and singing in the office -- she led an all-female rock band in college.


Ms. Nooyi offers special insight into her homeland, which has become a critical market for many consumer-product makers hungry for international growth. For instance, an Indian excise tax on soft drinks is criticized frequently by beverage companies as being excessive. But she has counseled Pepsi executives it isn't the right time to take on that issue. "The Indian government needs the revenue and you cannot get it through the political process," she says. "Having lived there, I provide a sanity check on the strategy there."


Meantime, she fields plenty of other opinions about Pepsi's latest commercials or newest flavor of potato chips. Two of the toughest critics are her daughters, ages 20 and 11, who share their mother's blunt style. Ms. Nooyi says her oldest daughter will ask, "Did you approve this ad? This is so dorky."


--Chad Terhune


4. Zoe Cruz

Global Head of Fixed Income, Morgan Stanley


Known to her colleagues as Morgan Stanley's "Cruz missile" for her ability to set goals and move unswervingly toward her target, Zoe Cruz has become a master of one of Wall Street's most rough-and-tumble, male-dominated universes: the bond world. Since 2000, she has headed Morgan Stanley's global fixed-income division -- a hugely profitable franchise that trades foreign currencies, bets on the price of commodities such as oil, and sells and underwrites bonds.


Last year, a banner year for debt trading and issuance, was particularly strong for Ms. Cruz's division. The firm rewarded her with a lion-sized $16.1 million in salary, bonus and other compensation -- more than the pay of Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Philip Purcell, who pulled in more than $15 million.


A colleague says the 49-year-old Ms. Cruz is "methodical, opinionated, and has a backbone. She knows where she's going, and she doesn't hesitate to speak up." From 1993 to 2000, she was co-head of Morgan Stanley's foreign-exchange desk, which trades for its own account and for clients. As she built relationships with prominent currency traders like George Soros and others, she became a go-to person for clients making big trades.


Ms. Cruz has Mr. Purcell's ear, and some consider her a potential candidate to head the firm someday.


Her husband is another Wall Street power: Ernesto Cruz runs the stock-underwriting group at Credit Suisse First Boston. Ms. Cruz is Greek, and Mr. Cruz is from a prominent family in Nicaragua.


Ms. Cruz is intensely private and declined to be interviewed. Some who work with her say that as a 22-year veteran of the old Morgan Stanley -- the white-shoe securities firm that merged with Dean Witter in 1997 -- she is steeped in a culture of discreet advice giving. She has said that touting her success could diminish it.


In addition to supporting education and children's health causes, Ms. Cruz has used her power on Wall Street to advocate mentoring of women. One woman who works for her said at an industry panel that Ms. Cruz "likes to make the point that women are only going to continue in this game if the trade-off is worth it. One way to ensure this is to make sure that, at the most senior level of firms, there is sponsorship of this idea to mentor, support and promote strong women."


She is tough. A former senior manager at Morgan says she broke up fiefdoms and eliminated "deadwood" when she took charge of her division.


"She's willing to deal with conflict and make decisions," the former co-worker says.


She is also on target for another banner year. Despite a bad bet on interest rates that hurt results in the third quarter, her group is on track to surpass last year's revenue, the firm says.


--Ann Davis


5. Brenda Barnes

President and Chief Operating Officer, Sara Lee


Brenda Barnes made her mark on corporate America by leaving it.


Six years ago, the mother of three gave up her job as head of PepsiCo Inc.'s PepsiCola North America unit to spend more time with her family. Ms. Barnes had hoped to make a quiet exit, but her departure ignited debate about whether working women could indeed have it all. So when Ms. Barnes, 50, returned to the executive ranks this summer, the buzz was equally loud. In July, she took the No. 2 spot at Sara Lee Corp., the consumer-products company based in her hometown of Chicago.


Ms. Barnes's influence in the business world is twofold. If she does well at Sara Lee, she could quickly ascend to the top spot there or at another corporation. And as a high-profile example of the tricky balance between work and family, Ms. Barnes will be closely watched for how she juggles the two.


Ms. Barnes rose through the ranks at PepsiCo, where she was widely considered a candidate for the soft-drink giant's top position. Since the beginning of her career, Ms. Barnes had aspired to run a company. But the grueling schedule during her 22 years at PepsiCo eventually took its toll. In 1997, Ms. Barnes left PepsiCo despite pleadings from top executives to stay.


"I did have a fear of the unknown, a concern how I would feel when my name badge just said Brenda Barnes with nothing under it," Ms. Barnes told a group of women from the food industry in May.


But she kept her skills sharp. During her time off, Ms. Barnes served as a director at six companies, including New York Times Co., Staples Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. She was interim president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. in 2000 and taught at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


At Sara Lee, Ms. Barnes faces a tough task. The company has been poorly focused in recent years, in part because it has spread itself too thin across a sprawling empire of diverse products. The maker of Hanes underwear and Jimmy Dean sausages has seen slow sales growth and has met profit targets largely by slashing costs.


Wall Street seems optimistic that Ms. Barnes can help shape things up. She wants to focus on growing sales and plans to put more emphasis on marketing and building Sara Lee's most promising brands. She already has created two new positions: chief marketing officer and chief customer officer.


Ms. Barnes says she doesn't regret her decision to quit PepsiCo. "I would make the same decision a million times over," she says. Mindful that she's become a role model, she is quick to point out that leaving your job to spend more time with your family isn't necessarily the right decision for other women.


And she's not sure why everyone made such a big deal of it in the first place. "I'm the only person I know who became famous for quitting a job."


--Janet Adamy


6. Sharon Allen

Chairman, Deloitte & Touche


It's been a long journey from Boise, Idaho, bean counter to boardroom fixture. But today, as chairman of the board of Deloitte & Touche LLP, Sharon Allen is the highest-ranking woman in the history of the Big Four accounting firms.


Ms. Allen has been focused on trying to restore public confidence in the profession. Accountants are slowly working to re-establish the trust lost following accounting scandals like those at Adelphia Communications Corp., which was audited by Deloitte, and Parmalat SpA, audited by Deloitte's Italian affiliate.


She also emphasizes the importance of diversity in the business. "About a decade ago, I wanted to understand why female turnover was so high here," says Ms. Allen. "I didn't accept the standard answers about family and home obligations." So she helped Deloitte launch a program called the Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women.


Ms. Allen pushes those two subjects in speeches, in meetings with key regulators, and by mentoring women at Deloitte. She currently heads Deloitte's governance process and serves as the U.S. representative on Deloitte's global board of directors and governance committee.


Entering the University of Idaho in her home state in 1969, Ms. Allen originally aimed to become a teacher. She changed her mind, though, when her roommate, an accounting major, suggested she take a basic accounting class. Ms. Allen soon switched majors.


She joined Deloitte's Boise office in 1973 and then went on to Portland, Ore., and later Los Angeles, where she ran the firm's second-largest regional office, with roughly 2,500 employees. Today, Ms. Allen lives in Pasadena, Calif., and handles advisory relationships with Deloitte clients like Boeing Co., Washington Mutual Inc. and Lucent Technologies Inc.


"I think I was able to bring a different look at how we served clients and how business was run in a smaller office," she says. Working in Boise, she says, one of Deloitte's smallest markets, taught her how to allocate personnel efficiently and manage individual relationships.


These days in speeches to women entrepreneurs and others, Ms. Allen cites studies that say companies with more executive women have better corporate governance and financial results. "A diverse boardroom prompts a more robust discussion" about challenging corporate issues, says Ms. Allen.


Ms. Allen says that if she were to have a conversation with anyone from history, she says it would be her great-grandmother, who was one of the first women in the Idaho Legislature. "I'd like to ask her what it was like being a pioneer at that time," says Ms. Allen.


--Diya Gullapalli


7. Susan Arnold

Vice Chairman, Procter & Gamble


When Susan Arnold joined Procter & Gamble Co. 24 years ago, she was fresh out of business school, eager to work as a brand assistant on Dawn dishwashing liquid. Back then, the brand was at the heart of P&G's biggest and most successful division: detergents.


"Honestly, in the culture of the time, that's where you wanted to go," she says. "Beauty wasn't the place to work."


Today, it is. Beauty brands like Pantene and Olay make up the biggest division of the $51 billion consumer-products giant, generating $17 billion in sales during the company's latest fiscal year.


P&G has spent more than $10 billion on beauty acquisitions in recent years, buying brands such as Clairol and Wella. The company now ranks as the world's second-biggest beauty company in the world, surpassed only by L'Oréal SA, of Paris. Chief Executive A.G. Lafley has highlighted beauty as a pillar of P&G's future.


Nobody has more riding on that pillar than the 50-year-old Ms. Arnold, a Pittsburgh native whose career evolution -- from a brand manager for Tide laundry sheets to vice chairman of global beauty -- has mirrored the transformation of her employer. There was a time when our competitors "saw us as soap makers," says Ms. Arnold. "I think today everybody takes us very seriously."


They're especially paying attention to Ms. Arnold, the highest-ranking woman in P&G's 167-year history. In May, she was promoted to vice chairman, one of four at the company. Insiders say she's now part of a three-person pool of potential successors to Mr. Lafley.


She runs all of P&G's beauty brands, everything from the upscale SK-II skin-care regime to Pantene and Clairol to brands that are part of the beauty business only in P&G's world: Tampax tampons and Secret deodorant.


One of Ms. Arnold's strengths is her ability to imagine mundane products like deodorant and tampons as beauty items. That vision has put sparkly powder in Secret deodorant and shiny packaging on Tampax tampons. Ms. Arnold's pet project was Olay, which she guided from being a "pink beauty fluid" for older women to a billion-dollar, skin-care powerhouse.


But her biggest project has been getting people at P&G to think, and act, like beauty executives. Over the summer, after she had gained control of all of P&G's beauty brands, she organized a kickoff event for the restructured P&G Beauty division and its 1,800 Cincinnati-based employees, and Webcast it around the world. The event, which featured makeovers of P&G employees (introduced by a video clip of the "Fab 5" from the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" television series), was designed to instill in the employees a sense of working for a beauty company.


"We clearly see ourselves as a beauty company," she says, "not just a division of what was a soap company."


--Sarah Ellison


8. Safra Catz

Co-President, Oracle


Larry Ellison, chief executive of Oracle Corp., admits he was beaten to the punch on the biggest deal of his career -- last year's hostile takeover bid for software rival PeopleSoft Inc.


"It was almost my idea, but I was a couple minutes late," Mr. Ellison testified in a Delaware trial last month in which Oracle is trying to invalidate PeopleSoft's antitakeover defenses.


"Who beat you to it?" Oracle's attorney asked.


"Safra Catz," Mr. Ellison replied.


As co-president of Oracle, Ms. Catz, 42 years old, is enforcer, gatekeeper and de facto operating chief of the No. 2 independent software company. She is also chief strategist for Oracle's aggressive effort to lead what she and her billionaire boss maintain is the inevitable consolidation of the software industry.


Ms. Catz was an investment banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette for more than a decade. Oracle was a DLJ client, and in 1999 Ms. Catz told Mr. Ellison she was tired of traveling. He made her a senior vice president and she quickly became a fixture in his office, sitting in on meetings and making sure other executives followed through on his orders.


"She does the work," says Ed Zander, chief executive of Motorola Inc., who dealt frequently with Ms. Catz when he was president of Sun Microsystems Inc., a frequent partner of Oracle's. "In some cases, she does the dirty work," he adds, referring to tasks no one else wants to handle, such as firings, or just playing the heavy to get people to follow through on their commitments.


Intensely private, Ms. Catz leaves the spotlight to Mr. Ellison and avoids the clash of personalities that has led to the departure of a parade of top Oracle executives over the years. Many had set their sights on the company's top job; Ms. Catz has no such ambitions, associates say. Through a spokeswoman, Ms. Catz declined to be interviewed.


Ms. Catz has helped restructure Oracle after the tech downturn forced an end to its free-spending ways. Blunt and incisive, she set strict guidelines for approving the steep discounts requested by Oracle's sales representatives, holding the line even when it means losing deals. She takes credit for boosting operating profit from 21% of revenue during the boom years to more than 38% in the fiscal year ended May 31.


Mr. Ellison says he first asked Ms. Catz to look at acquiring PeopleSoft in 2000. An early effort at a merger fell apart, but Ms. Catz was still convinced that consolidation was inevitable. She presented Oracle's board with nine candidates for acquisition, including BEA Systems Inc., J.D. Edwards & Co. and PeopleSoft. As soon as PeopleSoft last year announced it had agreed to acquire J.D. Edwards in a merger of its own, Ms. Catz had ready what Mr. Ellison later called a "war game in a box."


"Now would be the time to launch" on PeopleSoft, Ms. Catz wrote Mr. Ellison in an early morning e-mail, according to evidence submitted in the Delaware trial.


"Just what I was thinking," Mr. Ellison replied.


--David Bank


9. Linda Cook

Executive Director, Gas and Power, Royal Dutch/Shell Group


In May, the twin boards of Royal Dutch/Shell Group tapped Linda Cook to fill out the company's top management team -- decimated earlier in the year by forced exits in the wake of the company's accounting scandal.


After the shake-up -- culminating in last month's announcement of a sweeping corporate overhaul at Shell -- Ms. Cook finds herself heading up Shell's gas and power interests, one of three core businesses at the Anglo-Dutch giant, the world's third-largest publicly traded oil company by market capitalization. She reports directly to Shell's new chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer.


Her mandate: Expand Shell's global natural-gas and power business.


"This is really the future of Shell, and it's where Shell really has a leadership position," says Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.


More than most of its competitors, Shell is betting that demand growth for gas will outstrip that of oil in years to come, and it's investing in a number of mega-projects from the Middle East to Russia's Far East to take advantage. Those projects could make or break a colossal turnaround effort following disclosures earlier this year that Shell had massively overstated its tally of energy reserves, a key investor measure.


"We know that reputation is not restored overnight, and it will only come through delivery of the commitments that we've made with respect to performance," says the 46-year-old Ms. Cook.


Ms. Cook says one of her strategic objectives is to "drive access" for Shell to new deposits of gas by coming up with ways to commercialize and market the stuff once it is tapped. She led the gas and power division once before -- from January 2000 to June 2003 -- but didn't have the responsibilities she does now as one of Shell's top five executives. "I have a real passion for it," she says.


The gas and power division is charged with commercializing and marketing gas expected from a number of exploration and development projects around the world. That's tricky business for a commodity that's typically traded locally because it's so difficult to ship. The result is often volatile price swings or slow-growth markets. Shell is hoping it can change that with big plans for liquefied natural-gas projects that super-cool gas for transport by tanker. The company also is betting on a relatively novel plant in Qatar to convert gas into liquid fuels.


Married with three children, Ms. Cook started her career at Shell after earning a petroleum-engineering degree in 1980. She abandoned chemical engineering early on at the University of Kansas because future job prospects seemed few, and she fell in love with geology.


Ms. Cook's last assignment as chief executive of Shell Canada Ltd. was cut short by the reserves scandal and her subsequent promotion at headquarters. She served in Canada just one year, surviving an embarrassing reduction in estimated reserves at the unit's once-promising gas fields off the coast of Nova Scotia. The reduction was unrelated to Shell's groupwide reserve accounting scandal.


--Chip Cummins


10. Gina Centrello

President and Publisher, Random House Publishing Group 


Twenty-three years ago, Gina Centrello was a proofreader at a small publisher of accounting and legal books. Today she oversees Bertelsmann AG's Random House Publishing Group, a unit that includes the original Random House imprint, publisher of James Joyce and William Faulkner.


Random House is home to Maya Angelou, Norman Mailer and E.L. Doctorow, as well as such past literary luminaries as Sherwood Anderson and Truman Capote. Ms. Centrello, 45 years old, also is responsible for Ballantine Books, Modern Library, Villard, Del Rey, One World and Presidio Press. Net revenue for the group is estimated at more than $250 million annually.


"She's always looking for ways to get people to buy your book," says author Lorenzo Carcaterra, whose crime novel "Paradise City" was published in September by Ballantine. "She knows how to push that hardcover as far she can, and she's smart enough to also keep an eye on the lucrative backlist," which is books kept in print a relatively long time.


In 1982, Ms. Centrello joined Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books imprint as a copy editor. Eleven years later, she was named publisher. Pocket Books, founded in 1939, was the country's first paperback publisher, and became a leader in inexpensive, rack-sized books.


"She knew how to capitalize on opportunities," including instant books which are published in a short period of time, says Carolyn Reidy, president and publisher of the adult publishing group at Viacom Inc.'s Simon & Schuster. In September 1998, Ms. Centrello issued independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report on the Clinton investigation. On the first day, Pocket Books sold out its initial print run.


In 1999, Ms. Centrello jumped to Ballantine Books as president and publisher. Ballantine was chiefly known as a reprint house, buying the paperback rights from sister imprints Random House and Knopf. But as mass paperbacks lost favor with readers, she focused new attention on Ballantine's own original publishing efforts.


In January 2003, Ms. Centrello was promoted to her current job, and was asked to manage the rival Ballantine and Random House imprints as one business. It was an unlikely marriage. Ballantine was perceived as a publisher of highly commercial books, while Random House was one of the country's premier literary icons.


Despite some bumps -- a number of Random House writers decamped to rejoin their former editor, Ann Godoff, at Pearson PLC's Penguin Press -- some outsiders think the business is gaining traction. "For the first time you're seeing cohesive behavior in that they are doing hardcover and softcover publishing together," says Richard Pine, a partner in the literary agency InkWell Management LLC.


--Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg


11. Susan Desmond-Hellmann

President, Product Development, Genentech 


When cancer doctor Susan Desmond-Hellmann arrived at Genentech Inc. nine years ago, the biotech company's flagship product was the heart-attack drug tPA, and there was hardly another oncologist in sight.


Today, the company has three major cancer medicines on the market, a fourth on the cusp of approval -- and a mission to become the No. 1 cancer-drug company in sales by the end of the decade.


Dr. Desmond-Hellmann, who is 47 years old and president of product development at Genentech, was a key architect of the company's conversion. Now her next task, which she shares with colleague Myrtle Potter, president, commercial operations (also profiled in this issue), will be to establish the company as a dominant player in the field.


"If we'd have even dreamt in 1995 that we'd have three cancer drugs on the market by now, people would have thought it was fantasy," Dr. Desmond-Hellmann says. "It's been a terrific period for the company and oncology, and a huge transition for us."


Dr. Desmond-Hellmann and Ms. Potter were each elevated to their present posts in March, reporting to Arthur D. Levinson, chairman and chief executive officer. They also co-lead the company's portfolio-management committee, which makes the critical investment decisions for future products.


After completing her own medical training, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann was a practicing cancer doctor, but says she soon grew frustrated with the lack of options for treating many cancers. In the clinic, she could help tens or hundreds of patients, she says, but as a researcher she had the opportunity to help thousands or hundreds of thousands. "I wanted to make a contribution on a broader scale."


With Herceptin, for breast cancer, Rituxan, for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and the colorectal-cancer drug Avastin -- all brought to market under Dr. Desmond-Hellmann -- Genentech has helped pioneer a so-called targeted approach to tumors that holds the promise of transforming cancer treatment.


But plenty of challenges remain. The newer drugs, which work by interrupting signals tumor cells rely on to grow and spread, are important advances, but they are hardly cures. Typically, they help only a minority of patients in clinical studies, and their beneficial effects, on average, are measured in months, not years.


Among the next steps, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann says, are to test new drugs in combination, and to show that treating patients earlier in their disease will result in better survival. Developing tests for biological markers that will help doctors determine in advance whether a patient is likely to respond to a drug is considered crucial to cost-effective use of the medicines.


--Ron Winslow


12. Linda Dillman

Executive Vice President, Wal-Mart Stores 


For Wal-Mart Stores Inc., technology is the power behind the retailer's phenomenal growth, fueling its ability to lower costs, drive down prices and beat the competition. And Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart's executive vice president and chief information officer, is the power behind the company's use of technology.


Presiding over a 2,400-person department, a data-storage system second only to the Pentagon's in size, and one of the most sophisticated information-services networks in the world, Ms. Dillman has a reach far beyond the bounds of Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart's hometown.


In June 2003, Ms. Dillman fired the shot heard round the retail world, when she kicked radio-frequency identification tags into high gear, decreeing that the company's 100 biggest suppliers had to convert to this souped-up bar-code system on all case and pallet shipments by January 2005. The tags are expected to eventually lower labor costs and lead to increased product sales, as merchandise will be more easily and accurately tracked.


"Wal-Mart has never been a company that adopts the latest and greatest technology unless it makes sense," says the 48-year-old Ms. Dillman. "We look into business issues and understand how technology can make us more efficient and solve problems."


Two years ago, when Ms. Dillman was promoted to her present post, Wal-Mart's chief executive, Lee Scott, handed her such a problem: Find a way to cut $2 billion out of inventory in the next two years or start looking for another job. It's no easy feat to slash inventory while you're increasing sales more than 10% a year. But Ms. Dillman is 75% of the way there.


Ms. Dillman didn't set out to be the information-services czar at the world's largest retailer. After developing an interest in computers while working in administration at Hewlett-Packard Co., she went back to the University of Indianapolis at night to learn computer programming. In 1987, she went to work for an Indiana warehouse club later bought by Wal-Mart.


Ms. Dillman puts in 60 to 65 hours a week. That's actually an improvement, since she's learned to schedule dinners with friends to ensure she gets out of the office at a reasonable hour. She still takes her laptop home, but now deliberately leaves the power cord behind, so she can only work for two hours.


Ms. Dillman lives with her divorced brother, who shares custody of his two children. As often as she can, she slips away to a condominium she owns at the Lake of the Ozarks. "It's far enough away, there's no one from Wal-Mart there," she says. "I can feel the changes as I drive up there."


--Ann Zimmerman


13. Fumiko Hayashi

President, BMW Tokyo 


Tokyo Men's dominance of the business world in Japan is particularly prevalent in the country's flagship auto industry. But Fumiko Hayashi found a way to beat the system: She sold so many cars, she couldn't be denied.


"I felt they wouldn't discriminate so long as they see good results," says Ms. Hayashi, 58 years old. Her results have been so outstanding that she has worked her way up to the presidency of BMW Tokyo, a busy sales arm of German car maker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.


Her sales strategy is simple: Make people feel at ease, even if they say they are just looking. "It's important to touch people's emotion," she says.


Building her career hasn't been quite that simple. Her first job, after graduating from high school in 1965, was at a Japanese textile company. It was frustrating, she recalls. She wanted to sell, but women at big Japanese companies tend to be limited to clerical work. She changed jobs a few times, landing her first position selling cars -- highly unusual for a woman in Japan, even today -- with Honda Motor Co. when she was 31.


Ms. Hayashi, engaging and energetic, soon became the top salesperson in her showroom, despite her lack of experience in the car business. One of her strategies was to pay special attention to the wives of prospective customers. She struck up relationships with them, went shopping for them, bought them tickets to plays and listened to their complaints. Customers began introducing her to friends.


After 10 years at Honda, Ms. Hayashi decided to pursue what had become a dream: a job at BMW. At first, she was rejected, but she persisted, writing a seven-page letter to BMW Tokyo, explaining why she should be hired. In 1987, about five months after she first approached BMW, she got the job.


To sell to wealthier customers, Ms. Hayashi studied everything from classical music to foreign sports, looking for ways to work that knowledge into her sales pitches. Within a month, she had become the top salesperson in BMW Tokyo's key showroom.


BMW then put her in charge of the company's weakest showroom in Tokyo. She taught her sales staff her meticulous methods. She held events at the showroom, inviting Japanese traditional Noh players, jazz dancers and classic musicians. In six months, she had turned it around.


By 1999, the headhunters had noticed Ms. Hayashi. Volkswagen AG wanted her to head its flagship dealership in Tokyo. Never one to shy away from a challenge, she moved again, and during her four-year tenure, the dealership's annual sales more than doubled.


Last year, Ms. Hayashi returned to BMW Tokyo as president. She immediately went to work trying to restore the friendly and comfortable atmosphere that she says some of the showrooms had lost. She invested in seasonal flowers, chic paintings and other decorative touches, making the showrooms look like a luxury hotel lobby. She even stationed a veteran BMW Tokyo employee as a concierge at a key showroom.


BMW Tokyo's sales are exceeding last year's levels, and Ms. Hayashi aims for a gain of 10% this year. She also hopes to enlist more women as dealers and appoint more female managers. "Dealerships should take more advantage of women's strength," Ms. Hayashi says.


--Ichiko Fuyuno


14. Ann Moore

Chairman and Chief Executive, Time Inc. 


In 1978, when Ann Moore joined Time Inc., titles like Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune ruled the roost. Revenue -- heavily dependent on alcohol, tobacco and automotive advertising -- reflected the interests of the company's overwhelmingly male readers.


Today, some of the biggest engines for growth at Time -- People, In Style, and Real Simple -- are women's magazines. Bursting with advertising from packaged-goods, retail, cosmetics, fashion and travel-related industries, the magazines account for more than half of Time's profits. And much of the credit for the success of these titles goes to Ms. Moore.


The 54-year-old is arguably the most powerful figure in magazine publishing. As chairman and chief executive of Time Inc., she oversees some 134 magazines that reach 300 million readers. Ms. Moore's knack for finding hot, new titles caused some to dub her the "Launch Queen."


"Ann knows how to get in touch with consumers, and where their interests lie," says Time Warner Chief Executive Richard Parsons. "We've had a tremendous run of new launches, and I give her most of the credit for it."


Nearly a quarter of total advertising revenue from U.S. consumer magazines flows to Time Inc., one of six divisions of Time Warner Inc. Ms. Moore's portfolio grew in September to include Time Warner's book group, so she now runs a division that generates more than $5 billion in annual revenue.


Ms. Moore started at Time Inc. as a corporate financial analyst, then worked as an executive at Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Money and Discover. In 1989, she launched Sports Illustrated for Kids. She rose to the publisher's position at People in 1991. Two years later, she was named president of People, where she presided over the launches of In Style, Teen People, People en Español and Real Simple. With InStyle, she created a magazine that was the precursor of the shopping titles that are now the rage.


"She was able to push the pedal to the floor," says Landon Jones, former managing editor of People magazine. "She was not a conservative manager. She really wanted to see how big we could make the thing get."


Ms. Moore was appointed to the top post at Time Inc. in July 2002. It was a difficult time. The industry was in the midst of a deep advertising recession. Growth at the company had stalled. What's more, Ms. Moore was replacing Donald Logan, an admired leader.


After a very difficult 2003, Time Inc. is back on a growth track. The company's consumer-magazine advertising revenue in the U.S. rose 12.1% to $3.1 billion in the first eight months of this year, compared with the year-earlier period, according to the Publisher's Information Bureau. That topped industry growth of 8.9%. And the company has had four launches, including the reincarnation of Life, which rolled out last month, with a Friday circulation of 12 million copies, and All You, a women's magazine sold only at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. locations.


--James Bandler


15. Sallie Krawcheck

Chief Financial Officer, Citigroup 


Sallie Krawcheck is excited about her new job as Citigroup Inc.'s chief financial officer for many reasons, but there is one aspect that tickles her more than the rest: the chance to get a sneak peek at the company's quarterly earnings.


"I feel a little like a kid in a candy store. I'm like a pig in mud. I get to know everything," says Ms. Krawcheck, 39, who used to pore over Citigroup's earnings reports when she was a Wall Street analyst covering the giant financial-services company.


Ms. Krawcheck raised eyebrows two years ago when she left Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. to run Citigroup's research and brokerage units. Wall Street veterans expressed surprise that Ms. Krawcheck, working at a firm known for its independent research, was jumping ship to join a company that had been smack in the middle of the controversy about the cozy relationship between investment bankers and research analysts.


Her latest job change, to CFO, also left Wall Street buzzing -- this time about whether her new job could lead to a showdown for a future higher position at Citigroup. In taking on her new role, Ms. Krawcheck swapped jobs with Todd Thomson, who had been appointed CFO in 2000.


Ms. Krawcheck dismisses the speculation with a shrug and a grimace. "Can we all just take a deep breath here?" she says. "It's certainly not on my mind."


But Ms. Krawcheck isn't known for taking many deep breaths herself, being a self-proclaimed type A personality. As a youngster, she says, "I was the geeky kid with glasses, corrective shoes and freckles -- the whole thing. Insecurity can be a powerful motivator."


A native of Charleston, S.C., Ms. Krawcheck graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1987 and went on to receive an M.B.A. from Columbia University in New York. After stints at Salomon Brothers and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, she landed at Bernstein in 1994, where she was a senior equity analyst covering life insurance and securities firms until 1999. She ultimately became chairwoman and chief executive of the firm, responsible for research, brokerage, trading, business development and planning.


Now, as chief financial officer of the biggest bank in the U.S., Ms. Krawcheck aims to provide clarity about the company's business and operations, both internally and to investors, whom she often refers to as "owners."


"I don't see this job as selling our stock to investors," she says. "Our job is to provide strong, high-quality earnings, and the rest will closely follow."


--Robin Sidel


16. Jenny Ming

President, Old Navy 


As president of Gap Inc.'s Old Navy division, Jenny Ming has helped create in just 10 years one of America's biggest retail brands. But as a student, she originally had no plans to enter business at all.


Ms. Ming, 49 years old, advanced through the ranks at Gap to oversee a chain with more than 850 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Old Navy had $6.5 billion in sales last year, outpacing even the $5.3 billion Gap division, which was founded 35 years ago. In the past few years, Ms. Ming has made improvements to Old Navy's product design and marketing that served as models for the rest of the company.


But at San Jose State University in the 1970s, Ms. Ming wanted to be a home-economics teacher. When the school system where she was planning to teach cut its home-ec classes, her boyfriend -- now her husband -- suggested she take some business classes, and she graduated with a degree in clothing merchandising.


Ms. Ming started her retail career in 1979 as a buyer at Mervyn's. She joined Gap in 1986 as merchandise manager of activewear. In 1994, she was one of the executives who founded Old Navy. The value-priced, casual-clothing chain geared toward families was given 49 of Gap's worst-performing stores and allowed to build one store from scratch.


The mission of Old Navy, Ms. Ming says, was to offer appealing clothes at affordable prices. Though the idea seems obvious today, it wasn't widespread then. "We really also felt clothes shouldn't be the most important thing in life," she says. "That was something different, because most of us in the business take clothes very seriously. There's a lot more you should spend on things like education, family, experiences. Clothes should take a back seat but be available, and you should have fun with them."


With its quirky commercials that made cargo pants, fleece tops and $5 flag T-shirts must-have fashion items for many, Old Navy was the first clothing retailer to reach $1 billion in sales in less than four years. Ms. Ming became president of the division in March 1999.


In 2000 and 2001, Old Navy lost its focus, first churning out predictable styles and then chasing too much after teenagers, driving away customers. But in the next two years, it began extensive customer research, brought back perennial favorite items and adapted its marketing to target different customer segments, such as teens and families. Similar tactics were used to turn around Gap and Banana Republic.


Old Navy sales rose 12% last year, and new lines keep coming, like maternity clothes and women's plus-size apparel. Says Ms. Ming: "I'm really thrilled to build something that's long-lasting, not just a fleeting moment. I'm more focused on that than on becoming a CEO."


--Amy Merrick


17. Vanessa Castagna

Chief Executive, Stores, Catalog, Internet; J.C. Penney 


When Vanessa Castagna left her general merchandise manager post at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1999, she took her tough negotiating skills with her to then-beleaguered J.C. Penney Co.


There, she overhauled the retailer's merchandising process and centralized the buying operation of its headquarters. Ms. Castagna also added muscle to Penney's dealings with vendors, securing more lucrative arrangements, and savings, for the Plano, Texas, retailer.


Ms. Castagna, now Penney's chief executive of department stores and Internet and catalog operations, is widely identified as a key player in orchestrating Penney's spectacular turnaround, led by Allen Questrom, Penney's chairman and CEO. She was considered a leading candidate for Penney's top post, but in a surprising move was passed over for LVMH senior executive Myron E. Ullman III, who will succeed retiring Mr. Questrom on Dec. 1. All eyes are now on where the 55-year-old Ms. Castagna might take her talents next, should she decide to leave the company.


"She's a very strong partner in the almost miraculous turnaround of J.C. Penney," says Arnold Aronson, managing director at consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates. "With a company of that size and scope, achieving their outstanding turnaround in such a short period of time is like turning a battleship around in the Hudson River."


Ms. Castagna's retailing career began in 1972 with Lazarus, a division of Federated Department Stores Inc., where she rose to senior vice president and general merchandising manager. From there, she went on to posts at Target Corp. and Marshalls Inc. prior to joining Wal-Mart in 1994, where she oversaw many departments, including women's and junior's apparel, which she was credited with making trendier and more appealing.


For Ms. Castagna, success in overhauling Penney's buying processes meant reversing the way the company had bought products over most of its 100-year history. Prior to her arrival, each of Penney's more than 1,000 stores would choose most of its own inventory, a costly way to do business, particularly as competitors had developed more advanced delivery systems.


By centralizing the process, Ms. Castagna was able to standardize Penney's store appearance and wield more buying power since she could negotiate better prices on a fewer number of styles. The centralization also allowed Penney to increase apparel buying to several times a season instead of just once a season, allowing it to deliver fashion trends more quickly.


Penney's stock has more than doubled over the four years since its turnaround strategy began, and sales in stores open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, are up 6.2% year-to-date over last year.


--Ellen Byron


18. Wu Xiaoling

Deputy Governor, People's Bank of China 


Arguably the most influential woman in China's financial system, Wu Xiaoling has had a hand in most of the major financial reforms undertaken by the country over the past two decades.


Now, as the first deputy governor in charge of monetary policy at China's central bank, Ms. Wu faces an unprecedented challenge: learning how to effectively use interest-rate adjustments and other financial tools to manage growth in a country where the market economy is still evolving.


Ms. Wu, 57 years old, is known for being fast-thinking and outspoken. Although she has taken a lower profile under her current boss, central banker Zhou Xiaochuan, she remains one of the public faces of the People's Bank of China.


Ms. Wu's responsibilities have changed with those of the central bank. In 2003, the central bank's financial supervisory functions were handed over to a newly established China Banking Regulatory Commission, leaving the central bank to focus on monetary policy. The central bank still doesn't enjoy the autonomy of the U.S. Federal Reserve, with the State Council, or cabinet, required to sign off on major decisions like interest-rate adjustments. The bank is gradually moving toward greater independence, even as it tackles long-term reforms like the liberalization of interest rates and foreign-exchange rates.


Ms. Wu's solid financial background has helped her spearhead all of these efforts. She was among the first batch of students who graduated from the central bank's Institute of Finance in 1984. She launched her central-bank career in 1985 as a deputy director of the institute's Practical Theory Research Department. In 1988, Ms. Wu was appointed deputy chief editor of Financial News, a newspaper run by the central bank. Her career hit a low point there, after authorities held her responsible for an editorial published during the 1989 pro-democracy movement that failed to toe the official line. She was transferred to the central bank's financial system reform department.


At the time, she had little to do, as the government wasn't yet focused on financial reforms. But the situation changed in 1993, when then-Vice Premier Zhu Rongji took over the reins of the central bank. Former colleagues say Ms. Wu's diligence, integrity and candidness impressed Mr. Zhu. In 1994, he appointed her to head the bank's Policy Research Office, which would help draw up the blueprints for the sweeping financial reforms and legislation Mr. Zhu wanted to implement.


In 1995, Ms. Wu was promoted to deputy director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and later became its director. She returned to the central bank in 1998 to head its Shanghai branch before becoming vice governor of the whole bank in 2000.


--Cui Rong


19. Yang Mianmian

President, Haier Group  


For many executives in China, a big challenge has been the move from a government-controlled command economy to a market economy. Yang Mianmian, president of Haier Group, is one who has managed the transition successfully, helping her company become China's leading home-appliances maker.


A Shanghai native, she graduated from the Gas Engine Department of Shandong Institute of Technology in 1963. She worked in the coastal city of Qingdao as a teacher, a technician at a state-run die-casting factory, and a senior engineer at a home-appliances company. In 1984, she was appointed deputy director and chief engineer of Qingdao Refrigerator Factory, the predecessor of Haier Group. She became deputy general manager and vice president of the group in 1991, and group president in 2002.


Ms. Yang, 63 years old, functions as the right hand of Zhang Ruimin, Haier's chief executive officer. Over two decades, they have transformed Haier from a small refrigerator workshop into a home-appliance giant with global sales of more than $9.6 billion last year. The company's products range from air conditioners to televisions, refrigerators to washing machines, and mobile phones to personal computers.


Ms. Yang has been overshadowed by Mr. Zhang, who is famous in China for espousing the management theories behind Haier's success, but her colleagues say that she specializes in the detail-oriented implementation that puts his theories into practice.


"Without the work of Yang, Zhang's theories would not be implemented so successfully," says Pan Chenglie, a management expert and an independent director of listed Qingdao Haier Co. For example, Ms. Yang put into effect Mr. Zhang's "market chain model," which links the incomes of individual workers in every step of the chain from manufacturing to sales, exerting pressure on all employees to improve their performance.


In the early years of Haier's development, when Chinese companies did not have a reputation for well-made products, Ms. Yang spent hours each day patrolling the company's production lines, searching for quality flaws. More recently, Ms. Yang spearheaded Haier's overseas expansion in the late 1990s. Rejecting the strategies of other Chinese appliance makers that typically tapped developing markets first, Ms. Yang decided that Haier would move into markets like the U.S. and Germany. That gamble has paid off: Haier estimated in 2002 it had more than half the U.S. market for small refrigerators.


Ms. Yang now faces the challenge of leading Haier amid fiercer competition. Multinationals are making further inroads in its domestic market, and profit margins continue to shrink. Another big challenge: how to develop a new generation of leaders for the company when she and Mr. Zhang retire.


--Qiu Haixu


20. Mellody Hobson

President, Ariel Capital Management 


If there's one thing you need to know about Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management LLC, it's that she's restless. At 35, she is also a regular on-air financial consultant to ABC's "Good Morning America," a board member for several Chicago-based institutions, and in 2001 was named a "Global Leader of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum.


Ariel, a Chicago-based firm with more than $18 billion under management for institutional and individual investors, and which bills itself as the largest African-American money manager, is known for its go-slow investment approach. The company even has a tortoise as its mascot. But Ms. Hobson's career trajectory has been anything but slow.


The daughter of a now-retired real-estate developer mother, she attended Princeton University, where she majored in international relations and public policy. After her sophomore year, she interned at Ariel and was hooked. After she graduated, Ariel's chief executive, John W. Rogers Jr., a fellow Princetonian, recruited her to a full-time job as a client-service and marketing representative. "I realized very quickly where my gifts were: investing in companies," she says. "At the end of the day, the thing I enjoy is growing a company."


She has barreled through a number of jobs at Ariel, including vice president and senior vice president for marketing, before becoming president and a board member in 2000. That same year she worked as a fund-raiser for former Sen. Bill Bradley's presidential campaign.


Ms. Hobson continues to pursue a range of outside endeavors as well, serving on several local boards, including those of the Field Museum and the Chicago Public Education Fund. Invariably described as energetic and always on, she helped the natural history museum start a group for young professionals that aims to generate interest in the museum, and has lined up members and sponsors.


"Mellody is the Blackberry queen," jokes Janet Knupp, referring to the electronic messaging device Ms. Hobson carries. Ms. Knupp is president of the Chicago Public Education Fund, which Ms. Hobson helped start in 2000. "She's running around the world, and I'll get these messages from her at all times of the night."


Ms. Hobson doesn't disagree. And she adds: "If people don't say anything else about me, it will be, 'She gets things done.'


"I have a lot to do. My mind swims with ideas all the time," she says. "When I look at people I most admire, they have a deep sense of ethics and commitment. That's lost in the rest of the world."


--Steven Gray


21. Naina Lal Kidwai

Deputy Chief Executive, India, HSBC 


When she became the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School in 1982, Naina Lal Kidwai had offers to work in the U.S. and participate in the frothy growth of the 1980s.


Instead she decided to become a banker in her native India, even though India's growth was being stunted at the time by government controls. The subcontinent was being strangled by tight regulations on how money moved in and out of the country, and on companies' methods of raising money, trading and investing. Though it was a tough choice to make, she chose to build her career in India because she wanted to be part of the modernization of the capital markets there.


"There were enough temptations put in my way, but I stayed the course," she says. "I'm pretty glad I did."


Now, 22 years later, she is deputy CEO of HSBC PLC's Indian operations. She has participated in and profited from India's evolution from a backwater of global markets closed to international capital to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world that attracts billions of dollars in foreign investment every year.


At the top of HSBC -- and previously at Morgan Stanley and ANZ Grindlays -- Ms. Kidwai has been part of every step of the liberalization of the Indian economy and has helped Indian companies raise billions at home and abroad. She has been offered positions in Hong Kong, London and New York throughout her career, but stuck with India, where she could help shape policy through different industry and government committees.


"I believe my ability to make an impact here is far greater than it could have been in an alien environment," she says. In India, "one gets the opportunity to be part of policy making and actually frame the rules and laws," she adds.


Though there are few women executives in India, the 47-year-old Ms. Kidwai says it may have been easier for her to excel than for women in the West. "We can count on our mothers, mothers-in-law and sisters much more than in the West, and domestic help is far more affordable," she says. "These support systems are quite liberating."


--Eric Bellman


22. Myrtle Potter

President of Commercial Operations, Genentech 


Four years ago, Myrtle Potter ran one of the largest divisions at drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., a cardiovascular/metabolics unit that employed almost 3,000 people and generated roughly $4 billion in annual sales.


Then a headhunter called about a job offer from a biotechnology company with annual revenue less than half that of Ms. Potter's division. Initially indifferent, Ms. Potter found her interest rising when she learned the company in question was San Francisco-based Genentech Inc., the world's first biotechnology company and a maker of highly specialized, genetically engineered medicines.


"I can tell you, I knew after my first visit that Genentech was where I wanted to work," she says.


Ms. Potter, now age 46, soon joined Genentech as the company's head of commercial operations, where she has overseen a major expansion of the company's product offerings. Since her arrival, Genentech has launched three new drugs -- including the highly anticipated Avastin, a new type of drug that fights cancer tumors by cutting off their blood supply, which was approved earlier this year. And it has continued to develop new forms of older products as well.


Genentech's revenue has almost doubled to $3.3 billion in 2003 from $1.7 billion in 2000 when Ms. Potter started. Those figures don't include the impact of Avastin. Many analysts believe Avastin will generate sales of more than $1 billion a year, and some think the figure could be much larger.


Genentech's success at turning its basic-science efforts into new drugs has presented Ms. Potter and her commercial team with a variety of challenges. Interest in Avastin, for instance, was so intense that Ms. Potter and other Genentech executives found themselves fielding phone calls from desperate cancer patients months before the drug was approved.


"The principle here is that if a patient calls, it doesn't matter if you're Myrtle Potter, [product-development chief] Sue Hellmann, or [Chief Executive] Art Levinson -- you take the phone call and direct them to where they need to be," Ms. Potter says. "Everyone understood without question that the goal was to get [Avastin] out as fast as possible."


In March, Ms. Potter was elevated to president of commercial operations, part of a broader reorganization to help Genentech better address its rapidly expanding product portfolio. Ms. Potter is often considered a likely future CEO, but she claims no particular interest in moving up at Genentech or elsewhere.


"I've never spent any time or energy worrying about the next job," Ms. Pottter says. "I've always felt that if I did what I was supposed to do, if I did a good job, I would be noticed and recognized and opportunities would come."


--David Hamilton


23. Doreen Toben

Chief Financial Officer, Verizon Communications 


When Doreen Toben visited a Verizon Communications Inc. call center recently, the chief financial officer of the nation's largest phone company did what she always does during field trips: find the lowest-ranking employees and pull up a chair beside them.


For the next three hours, she listened in on a sales clerk's phone conversations with customers, while peppering the clerk with questions. At the end, Ms. Toben concluded that the clerk's software was outdated, which slowed her down -- and cost the company money and efficiency.


"Managers' presentations tell you a lot," says Ms. Toben, 54, who has been Verizon's CFO since April 2002. "But employees on the front lines tell you everything."


Ms. Toben has a thorough understanding of the company's day-to-day operations. Not only does she spend a lot of time on the road meeting with employees, but she also has held many different kinds of jobs at Verizon and its Bell predecessors during her 21-year career there, ranging from low-level finance planning to running an equipment engineering group.


She concedes that she used to have no idea what engineers were talking about, but working with them taught her just what she needs to know. "As a CFO, you have to know the guts of an operation," says Ms. Toben, "otherwise you have no idea what numbers you're looking at."


In her office, she has several computer screens that provide her with live, or almost-live, data from different parts of Verizon. On one color screen behind her desk, 40 parameters, ranging from the number of phone lines to the number of Internet connections, parade by nonstop. Another screen provides a constant update on financial data.


A believer in the power of technology, Ms. Toben at times tests devices and software developed by her office neighbor, Verizon's chief information officer.


Ms. Toben says she was never worried that Verizon would be plagued under her watch by financial scandals like those of WorldCom and Qwest because of safeguards she set up in the reporting system. Instead, she has focused on slashing Verizon's huge debt load, a legacy of costly acquisitions in the late 1990s. She has shaved off some $21 billion in two years, lowering Verizon's total debt to $41.9 billion as of the end of the second quarter.


Ms. Toben this year was elected to the boards of New York Times Co. and Lincoln Center. She already holds a seat on the national advisory board of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.


Born to Dutch parents on the island of Curaçao, Ms. Toben has a fervent interest in international politics. "On the beach, you see me read a foreign-affairs journal, not a novel," she says.


--Almar Latour


24. Yoon Song Yee

Vice President, SK Telecom 


When Yoon Song Yee was 11 years old, her mother tried to enroll her in an art academy in Seoul. But the young Ms. Yoon, who had a passion for science, put her foot down, complaining: "There are no labs in this school."


That persistence has been paying off ever since. Her precocious talent earned Ms. Yoon an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from South Korea's elite science university at 21 and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology three years later.


Now 28, she is still rising fast -- in the corporate world. The highest-ranking woman executive at SK Telecom Co., South Korea's largest telecom service provider, Ms. Yoon is a vice president in charge of the company's communication-intelligence task force. The mission of the 33-member task force, which includes both technicians and marketers, is to create a new generation of mobile-phone services that can be tailored to the needs of individual customers. Among the innovations her task force is working on: mobile phones that keep track of a user's shopping habits and provide updates on the latest bargains and products.


In another project, her team is trying to design the next generation of networking tools to facilitate wireless Internet access via mobile phones. Specifically, her team is building on a service tested earlier by the company in which cartoon characters accept user commands and respond with information on everything from the weather to stock prices, theater times and the latest pop songs.


In her free time, Ms. Yoon paints landscapes and still lifes, an interest she acquired from her mother, a traditional calligrapher. "Imagination is an essential part of both science and art," she says. "It is the unconventional thought that creates new technology."


Ms. Yoon's success is remarkable in a business world that has been traditionally difficult for women. Korean women have slowly been breaking into the professions and politics, especially since the election of democratic governments in the early 1990s. But the corporate hierarchy remains largely closed to women. The typical corporate headquarters in South Korea is a male domain based on the Confucian ideal of paternalism and rank determined by age.


Aside from her duties at SK, Ms. Yoon also advises the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology and other government agencies and is a board member of NCsoft Corp., Korea's largest online game company. She was elected as a New Asian Leader by the World Economic Forum this year.


In addition to her career goals, Ms. Yoon believes there has to be a public-service dimension to commerce. "I feel good when my work goes well and it influences the country's industry and people's everyday life," she says.


--Seah Park

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