Most Powerful Women in Business 2009

Women in the Boardroom, and Beyond
Over the past several decades, women have gained a far more prominent position on the American business scene.  Once relegated to roles of subservience, as viewers of the AMC television series “Mad Men” can attest, female corporate executives have continued to assert themselves in boardrooms across the country.  The business magazine Fortune has, for the past twelve years, created an annual listing of the 50 most powerful women in business.  Some of them hold the top spots in their respective companies, while others are well on the way to that position.  The characteristics they share are hardly different from their male counterparts – vision, persistence, and intelligence – but many will privately attest to the fact that reaching this point in their careers took extra effort.  As much as we would like to believe in an egalitarian world of business, there is still an extra thrill when a woman manages to “make it in a man’s world.”  One measure of success – when the list premiered in 1998, only two women of the 50 was a CEO or its equivalent.  This year’s list includes 13 CEOs.

Most Powerful Women in Business
Fortune has selected fifty powerful women for its annual list; here is an in-depth look at the top ten:

1. Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo); Chairman and CEO
This is the fourth year that Nooyi has topped the Fortune list.  She led this food and beverage conglomerate to $43 billion in sales and led the drive to buy out the company’s two largest independent bottlers.  That move alone is expected to save the company close to $300 million a year.

2. Irene Rosenfeld (Kraft Foods); Chairman and CEO
Remaining at the number two spot, Rosenfeld helped increase company revenue 15 percent and saw her company become part of the Dow 30, a highly influential position.

3. Pat Woertz (Archer Daniels Midland); Chairman, CEO and President
Yet another food-based corporate executive, Woertz positioned her company to bet heavily on ethanol and saw ADM’s stock rise 15 percent in 2008.

4. Angela Braly (Wellpoint); President and CEO
As the top executive in this health care insurance company, one that boasts 34 million members and $61 billion in annual sales, Braly enjoyed the benefits of seeing her company’s stock rise by 71 percent since March 2009.

5. Andrea Jung (Avon Products); Chairman and CEO
This cosmetic retailer, with a worldwide following that empowers women to become mini-entrepreneurs, rode Jung’s innovative recruiting approach to add more than 200,000 U.S. representatives in Q1 2009.  That was the most successful drive in the company’s history.

6. Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Productions); Chairman
So much more than a simple television host, Winfrey’s entertainment empire includes broadcast, print, and movies.  She is expected to launch her own cable network next year with an estimated 70 million viewers.

7. Ellen Kullman (DuPont); CEO
Kullman started out in this company’s X-ray film division 21 years ago, finally working her way into the top spot in January 2009.  Her anticipated cost-cutting measures are expected to save the company close to a billion dollars this year.

8. Carol Bartz (Yahoo!); CEO
Bartz jumped from the top position at Autodesk (a CAD software provider) to assume the CEO role here, hoping to breath new life into what was already becoming a tired brand.  Her early partnership deal with Microsoft made her competitors sit up and take notice.

9. Ursula Burns (Xerox); CEO
Aside from her achievement as the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Burns continues to lead the company away from its near-bankruptcy in 2001 into what is expected to be its first profitable year (2010) this century.

10. Brenda Barnes (Sara Lee); Chairman and CEO
Barnes has been running this food manufacturing company since 2005 and sold off several unprofitable segments in order to boost profits and the company’s stock value.

Fifty Most Powerful Women – The Best of the Rest
Here are some highlights from the remaining women on this “most powerful” list:

12. Safra Catz (Oracle); Co-President
In conjunction with founder and company CEO Larry Ellison, Catz helped negotiate the upcoming merger with Sun Microsystems, a $7.4 billion deal that should earn Oracle $1.5 billion in annual profits.

18. Carol Mayrowitz (TJX Corp.); CEO and President
In a year when retail sales were generally in the tank, Mayrowitz guided this retail giant (T.J. Maxx and Marshalls) to $19 billion in sales, a four percent increase over last year.

29. Liz Smith (Avon Products); President
Avon is the only company to place two women on this Top 50 list, and Smith rightly earned the honor by helping her company grow sales 65 percent over 2008.

35. Joanne Maguire (Lockheed Martin); Executive Vice President
In her leadership role in the company’s Space Systems division, Maguire saw operating profits rise 11 percent over the previous year, despite a drop in sales volume.

40. Lorrie Norrington (eBay); President
Following an executive stint at General Electric, Norrington helped drive corporate growth in the emerging Asian market and was instrumental in streamlining the way the site’s 25 million sellers are paid.

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