1. Susan Arnold
Vice Chairman, Procter & Gamble
Just a few years ago, Susan Arnold was on a tight budget. She filled her gas tank halfway so she could afford shampoo and conditioner. She avoided paid parking garages to save money. She squeezed the tube of her Crest toothpaste to get the very last bit out of the tube.
For the highest-ranking woman in Procter & Gamble Co.'s 168-year history, that kind of penny-pinching seems extreme. But Ms. Arnold and her staff were on a self-imposed budget of $60 a week as part of a two-week exercise to get her executive team to think more like the average consumer who buys the products P&G sells, such as Olay face lotions, Secret deodorant and Pantene shampoo.
"You can get out of touch, and we wanted to make sure people stayed very close in touch," says Ms. Arnold.
That kind of thinking has helped the 51-year-old Pittsburgh native become the first woman vice chairman of P&G, a position she took in July 2004. Ms. Arnold runs P&G's beauty business, which in the past year generated more than $19 billion in sales, roughly a third of P&G's total revenue. That's about the size of Estée Lauder, Avon, Revlon and Alberto-Culver combined. P&G insiders say she is one of a three-person pool of likely successors to the current CEO, A.G. Lafley.
Mr. Lafley has made a big push into the beauty business, buying Clairol and Wella. But Ms. Arnold is the executive responsible for making the beauty business a success, a daunting task given that P&G is a relative newcomer to the business and is up against L'Oréal SA, the world's largest beauty company. P&G has struggled to come up with major innovations at Clairol, but Ms. Arnold is steadfast about the company's ability to figure it out. "This is a business we will learn," she says.
She took a personal lesson last year when her son, Mark, said he wanted to dye his hair. She took a box of Clairol hair color home and did it for him. "I hadn't home-colored since I was a teenager," she says. "I learned about the process and I learned that it's a difficult thing to do." She says trying the products is critical to the way she manages. "In the end, like all of our businesses, you have to experience them."
P&G's beauty portfolio spans a wide array of products for very different consumers. Ms. Arnold is ultimately responsible for reading their tastes, be they temperamental hair-salon owners who purchase Wella and Clairol colorants, upscale customers of Valentino and Rochas fine fragrances, or buyers of Tampax tampons.
Ms. Arnold's new job hasn't changed her direct, casual manner. She has nicknames for the executives who frequently work with her. Gina Drosos, vice president of cosmetics, is "The Big Cheese." Marc Pritchard, president of cosmetics and hair colorants, and Paolo deCesare, president of skin care, deodorants and personal cleansing, are "Marco" and "Polo." "She's fun," says Mr. Pritchard. "That's the main thing--she's fun."
She's also quick. "Where most of us would take an hour," Mr. Pritchard says, "she'd get it done in 40 minutes." That's her personality, but it's also part of her effort to maintain a balance between her hectic work life and her life at home with two children, Sarah, 10, and Mark, 13.
Ms. Arnold says she never strived for the position she has today. She says she's been lucky enough to work for some of the most talented people at the company. Her first boss when she started as a brand assistant on Dawn dish detergent back in 1980 was Mr. Lafley, who was her brand manager. A few months after she started, he asked her what her long-term goals were with the company. She responded with the default answer: She wanted to be a brand manager. Then she asked Mr. Lafley what he wanted to do. His reply: become CEO.
Even now, Ms. Arnold won't say she's interested in the top job. "I've made a career of being focused on doing what I'm doing really well, and I don't have the time or energy to think about what's next," she says. As for her success so far? "I didn't blaze paths at Procter," she says. "I just kind of kept walking forward every day."
-- Sarah Ellison
2. Zoe Cruz
Acting President, Morgan Stanley
Zoe Cruz, who began the year as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, gained even more power despite siding with the loser in a bitter civil war at her firm, blue-chip securities giant Morgan Stanley.
Ms. Cruz, age 50, was head of the fixed-income division until March 28, when she was elevated to serve as co-president by then-chief executive Philip Purcell just as the battle broke out into the open.
Although Mr. Purcell succumbed in mid-June to the campaign for his ouster waged by eight former Morgan Stanley bankers, his successor, John Mack, chose to keep Ms. Cruz in the No. 2 spot at the firm.
Ms. Cruz's appointment riled several former top executives who had opposed Mr. Purcell but who said they wouldn't return to work for her. Yet from a simple dollars-and-cents perspective, Ms. Cruz had important support from the most profitable parts of the business: bonds, commodities and currencies. Rising fixed-income profits have dominated Wall Street earnings reports ever since the stock-market bubble burst in mid-2000. And Ms. Cruz had led the currencies business, part of the fixed-income division, from 1993 until Mr. Mack named her head of fixed income in 2000 before leaving the firm himself.
As head of fixed income, she led the firm's 2002 re-entry into the profitable mortgage-securities business. As interest rates declined during that period, it touched off a massive wave of debt refinancing that helped fixed-income revenue more than double. Mr. Mack has cited those results in calling Ms. Cruz "a proven leader with a track record...of delivering bottom-line results for the firm."
As co-president, Ms. Cruz further strengthened her hand at the firm with a decision not to accept a guaranteed pay package at a time when the Morgan Stanley board was handing out generous packages to Messrs. Purcell and Mack as well as her former co-president, Stephen Crawford. Mr. Mack quickly disclaimed his package, but Mr. Crawford resigned after the disclosure that he had accepted a guarantee of $32 million over two years.
She also sought to build bridges with the equities division, the home of some of the alumni who had opposed her, by visiting that group's trading floor soon after Mr. Purcell announced he would step down on June 13. People in the division say Ms. Cruz took time to meet with several of the unit's top executives to discuss their business in detail.
-- Randall Smith
3. Indra Nooyi
President and Chief Financial Officer, PepsiCo
After an employee talent show earlier this year, PepsiCo Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Reinemund singled out one of the judges for special recognition: his No. 2, Indra Nooyi.
Ms. Nooyi was an ardent defender of the employees' singing and dancing that night amid criticism from some of the other judges. "There is only one PepsiCo Paula Abdul," Mr. Reinemund told a roomful of employees, referring to the upbeat judge on the hit TV show "American Idol."
The two hugged and then Ms. Nooyi went for the punch line: "First of all, Steve Reinemund doesn't know who Paula Abdul is." Then Ms. Nooyi led employees on a singalong of the "Banana Boat" song by Harry Belafonte, who was speaking to employees that day.
It was nothing out of the ordinary for Ms. Nooyi, who is known for her razor-sharp wit and singing at work -- she led an all-female rock band in college. However, the 50-year-old president and chief financial officer is also a tough, plain-spoken boss who drives her employees hard. She is fiercely competitive, from racing colleagues home after a business trip to playing hard to win a staff treasure hunt.
Her strategic thinking and deal-making skills have been instrumental in remaking the Purchase, N.Y., company over the past decade. She helped spin off Pepsi's restaurant and bottling businesses and worked on the 1998 acquisition of juice maker Tropicana. Then she was lead negotiator on the $13.8 billion acquisition of Quaker Oats Co. in 2001. She was rewarded in May 2001 with a board seat at Pepsi and the additional title of president, putting her in line to succeed Mr. Reinemund someday.
The board has made it clear they don't want to lose Ms. Nooyi. This year, she was one of only two Pepsi executives granted multimillion-dollar restricted stock awards that require them to stay until 2009 to cash in.
Ms. Nooyi, who was raised in a middle-class family in India, joined Pepsi in 1994 after working as a corporate strategist at Motorola Inc. and Asea Brown Boveri Inc. She remains a director at Motorola.
While another major acquisition is always possible, Ms. Nooyi has focused primarily on smaller deals in recent years that fill in geographic holes in Pepsi's fast-growing international drinks and snacks business. She has worked closely with other Pepsi executives on developing new product lines outside its core sodas and chips, such as fruit snacks and dairy drinks, as obesity becomes a bigger consumer issue globally.
Ms. Nooyi also serves as an ombudsman for female employees as part of a new senior-management program at Pepsi that assigns executives different employee groups. She helps identify key talent and mentors some female staff members.
-- Chad Terhune
4. Angela Ahrendts
Chief Executive-designate, Burberry Group
A great paradox of the fashion industry is that while women are the biggest buyers of clothes, few women run the companies that make them. A prominent exception is Britain's Burberry Group PLC.
Angela Ahrendts is set to join the London-based luxury label as an executive director in January. Initially she will work under the current chief executive officer, Rose Marie Bravo, who recently announced she will step down. Ms. Ahrendts will then take over as CEO in July.
As the new ruler over Burberry's trademark tartan, Ms. Ahrendts will have big shoes to fill. During Ms. Bravo's eight-year reign, Burberry changed from a dowdy maker of trench coats -- its famous raincoats were first made for British soldiers fighting in the trenches during World War I -- into a fashion powerhouse with flagship stores and advertising campaigns featuring supermodels. The tartan now graces skimpy bikinis, and the raincoats come in bright pink.
Ms. Ahrendts, 45 years old, isn't new to the fashion business. Since childhood, she had wanted to work in fashion. As a girl she collected clothes, and a day after her graduation from Indiana's Ball State University in 1981, she boarded a plane to New York.
She spent seven years at apparel giant Liz Claiborne Inc. In her last job there, as executive vice president, she managed 22 women's-wear and menswear brands that account for about 40% of the company's total revenue. During her time at Liz Claiborne, the corporation grew to 41 brands from 10, and sales nearly doubled to $4.6 billion from $2.5 billion.
Ms. Ahrendts arrives in London at a time of transition. With its turnaround accomplished, Burberry must keep up the growth momentum of recent years. In the six months ended Sept. 30, sales grew merely 2%, down from a 14% rise a year earlier. And Burberry says it was facing some of the toughest retail conditions in 20 years.
The company also faces a big ownership change. British retail and financial-services conglomerate GUS PLC, which owns a 66% stake in Burberry, is planning to split off the Burberry stake in December and allocate the Burberry shares among GUS shareholders in proportion to their holdings. So, where Ms. Bravo had a single majority shareholder to answer to, Ms. Ahrendts will run a fully public company with many shareholders.
Ms. Ahrendts will be compensated well for the endeavor. Her pay package at Burberry is worth as much as $27.4 million over three years. The deal includes nearly $8 million in cash and restricted stock not linked to her performance.
-- Cecilie Rohwedder
5. Laura Wright
Chief Financial Officer, Southwest Airlines
Despite a small-town background, Laura Wright, chief financial officer of Southwest Airlines, has always thought big.
Off to college after growing up in western Nebraska and east Texas, she decided not to waste any time and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously, in a little over four years.
And when Southwest recruited her to handle its company taxes in 1988, her main concern was whether she would have enough room to advance at the small discount airline. She liked her job at Arthur Young & Co., then one of the world's top accounting firms. While Southwest seemed like a fun place to work, "I was worried about long-term opportunity," she says, a thought that now makes her laugh.
But Ms. Wright jumped on board Southwest as the tiny airline rocketed to the top tier of the industry. Her small-town roots fit right in with Southwest's casual culture, and she quickly broadened her resume as director of corporate finance in 1990.
Ms. Wright assumed the duty of negotiating the purchase of airplanes dumped on the market by other downsizing and bankrupt carriers. Her experience debating arcane business details with government tax auditors had turned her into a painstaking negotiator. Her hard-nosed deal-making contrasts with a mild nature that prompts Southwest's chief executive, Gary Kelly, to describe her as "the sweetest tough lady you will ever meet."
Even as she's risen through the executive ranks, Ms. Wright, 45 years old, likes to stay involved at every level of the business. When Southwest was in secret negotiations to buy Morris Air in 1993, she flew to Salt Lake City for a middle-of-the-night, flashlight inspection of its airplane fleet parked on the tarmac.
"I'm really not just a paper pusher," Ms. Wright says. "I've always been a roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves type."
Ms. Wright succeeded Mr. Kelly as CFO when he moved to the chief executive suite in July 2004. As CFO she's involved in approving capital projects and helping decide what makes sense for the company strategically. She also co-hosts the earnings conference calls with analysts with Mr. Kelly.
But she gets the most attention these days for steering the company's lauded fuel-hedging program, which has secured Southwest a supply of cheaper fuel at a time when energy costs are putting a huge strain on the industry. That program could prove crucial to Southwest's future success, giving the carrier the resources to continue growing while other airlines struggle to remain solvent.
As energy prices stay high and opportunities for cheaper fuel contracts evaporate, it's becoming more difficult to maintain that edge. "Clearly the decisions are much, much harder today, but they've always been hard," says Ms. Wright.
Making tough decisions is a hallmark of leadership, she adds. "You have to be able to make a hard decision, and you can't procrastinate," she says. "Because if you do, that decision will be made for you."
-- Susan Warren
6. Susan Desmond-Hellmann
President of Product Development, Genentech
Earlier this year, Genentech Inc. got lucky -- really lucky. Over the span of five months, five large-scale clinical trials of its new-style "targeted" drugs each yielded positive results. In quick succession, various Genentech drugs successfully battled lung, breast and pancreatic tumors, helped reverse vision loss in elderly patients with macular degeneration and treated a severe form of arthritis.
In the high-risk biotechnology industry, just about any one of these results would have been considered a home run. For Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Genentech's chief of product development and its second-highest-ranking official, it was a fortuitous payoff for years shepherding promising experimental treatments through the company's rigorous science and medical-testing programs.
"I can't remember a time in my career before where the impact of hard work and the dreams you have when you do drug development" converged so dramatically, says Dr. Desmond-Hellmann, 48. "It's great to see good things happen for patients."
The positive results of the trials, of course, come with caveats. None of the cancer drugs actually cure the disease, and when they do extend life, they tend to do so only by a few months. Some of these drugs also work in only a minority of patients; Herceptin, for instance, is effective in just 20% to 30% of breast-cancer patients.
Still, the unexpected string of success has boosted Genentech financially. Its stock price almost doubled in the first six months of the year. And sales of some of the tested drugs have started to pick up.
Dr. Desmond-Hellmann, a 10-year veteran of Genentech, moved to industry from medical practice after growing frustrated with the limited treatment options available to cancer patients. Over the years, she has been instrumental in pushing the company more deeply into research and development of cancer drugs.
The recent clinical successes now bring new challenges for Dr. Desmond-Hellmann. She must oversee the submission of 10 new regulatory filings with the Food and Drug Administration over the next several months. She also must ensure that the company's pipeline of experimental treatments is restocked.
"Expectations are high," she says. "Most days, that's thrilling. Some days, it's daunting."
Another challenge: keeping up the quality in research as the company grows. Declining research productivity is an acute problem at giant drug companies, one that Genentech hopes to avoid.
-- David Hamilton
7. Karen Katen
Vice Chairman, Pfizer
Karen Katen took another step toward the top job at Pfizer Inc. in February with a promotion to vice chairman and new responsibilities for research and manufacturing.
The New York drug maker's current chairman and chief executive, Henry McKinnell, isn't scheduled to step aside until early 2008. But the world's largest drug company by sales set its succession plan into motion by elevating Ms. Katen, 56, and two other Pfizer executives to vice-chairman spots early this year.
With the moves, the company's executive committee now comprises Mr. McKinnell and the three vice chairmen vying for his job: Ms. Katen; David Shedlarz, promoted from chief financial officer; and Jeffrey Kindler, general counsel. Pfizer has never gone outside to find a new CEO.
It's still a three-way race, but the odds already favoring Ms. Katen got even stronger this year. She became president of the newly created human-health group, now the New York-based company's principal operating unit, at the same time she was named vice chairman. In this new role, Ms. Katen added the company's research and development laboratories and factories to her existing sales and marketing responsibilities for Pfizer's prescription-drug business.
She takes command of this broad portfolio just as Pfizer has entered a particularly trying period. Safety concerns over Cox-2 painkillers led Pfizer to withdraw Bextra from the market in April and have crimped sales of Celebrex. Patents on some of Pfizer's biggest-selling drugs are starting to expire. The antibiotic Zithromax is expected to begin facing generic competition next month, followed by the antidepressant Zoloft next year. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration recently denied approval for some drugs, including an osteoporosis treatment, that the company had been counting on to take up some of the slack.
New products are in short supply, and savings from the acquisitions of Warner-Lambert Co. and Pharmacia Corp. are waning. So in a bid to cut costs and increase efficiency, Ms. Katen and Mr. Shedlarz are leading a top-to-bottom review of Pfizer's operations to trim $4 billion in annual expenses by 2008.
Ms. Katen has also set her sights on restoring the reputation of Pfizer and the rest of the drug sector with the public. "The industry has come clearly to the point that the environment is not favorable to us, if the perception is that we're not there to help patients and their families," she said in an interview this summer.
She has pushed initiatives to broaden access to Pfizer medicines with assistance programs for the uninsured and has worked through the drug industry's trade group for broader action on the same issues. "Even people who have good income and access to medicine," she says, "are concerned that there are individuals who do not."
-- Scott Hensley
8. Sallie Krawcheck
Chief Financial Officer, Citigroup
Sallie Krawcheck is usually the only woman at the table when she sits down with her counterparts at other financial-services companies.
As Citigroup Inc.'s chief financial officer, Ms. Krawcheck also is now the bank's highest-profile woman, following the recent departure of veteran executive Marjorie Magner, who ran its global consumer business.
It's been about a year since Ms. Krawcheck -- a longtime banking-industry analyst and avowed numbers junkie -- stepped into the CFO role. The move was part of a job swap with Todd Thomson, who took Ms. Krawcheck's position running the bank's research and brokerage operations. The move also prompted speculation that the two executives could vie for a higher position at the bank down the road.
"It's been both the longest and shortest year of my life," says Ms. Krawcheck, a 40-year-old native of South Carolina.
Indeed, there's been plenty of activity at Citigroup in the past year. In March, the Federal Reserve banned the deal-hungry bank from making major acquisitions after a series of regulatory and ethical missteps. Like other big banks, Citigroup has been hurt by slow revenue growth and a listless stock price. It recently divested its asset-management business in an effort to avoid potential conflicts. In July, Robert Willumstad, chief operating officer, announced he was leaving the firm; Ms. Magner departed a few weeks later.
Ms. Krawcheck's job stretches well beyond number-crunching; she also is responsible for the banks' investor relations, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic planning. But it's not all new to her. As chairman and chief executive at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., she was responsible for business development and planning, as well as the firm's research, brokerage and trading operations.
A 1987 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Ms. Krawcheck received an M.B.A. from Columbia University. She joined Bernstein in 1994 as an equity analyst after jobs at Salomon Brothers and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. She moved to Citigroup in 2002.
These days, Ms. Krawcheck spends the last day of each quarter bracing for two grueling weeks of financial reviews, preparations for investor presentations, and major strategic decisions. "You lose eight weeks of your life every year to earnings, and at the end of it, you look bad -- all tired and pimply," she says. Still, "the guys shouldn't have all the fun."
Ms. Krawcheck prides herself on being frank with investors, whether it's explaining how rising interest rates will affect earnings or how the bank's performance in bond trading fell short. "I don't see my job as chief cheerleader for Citigroup," she says.
Later, she adds: "I love Citigroup. I am bullish on Citigroup."
-- Robin Sidel
9. Ann Moore
Chairman and Chief Executive, Time Inc.
Ann Moore is the most powerful executive in the magazine business. She runs the largest diversified publisher in America, with 155 titles, including icons like Sports Illustrated, Time, Fortune and People. Since 2002, the 55-year-old chairman and chief executive also has steered Time Inc. through a major industry slump, changed its makeup and moved it into the 21st century.
Whereas men's publications like Sports Illustrated and Fortune propelled Time Inc. in the early 1990s, magazines for women now make up more than half the company's profits. Ms. Moore is largely responsible, launching such highly successful titles as Real Simple, Cottage Living and All You, a women's magazine sold only at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. In the process, Time Inc. has soaked up advertising from areas where it was once weak, such as packaged goods, retail, cosmetics, fashion and travel.
Eileen Naughton, president of Time magazine, says Ms. Moore has a unique nose for openings in the market and isn't afraid to pursue them. "Ann had more chutzpah than anybody at the table," she says, "because she has lived through business launches and that whole kind of scary roller-coaster ride of committing to a big idea and then seeing it through to execution."
Inside the company, staffers call her the "Launch Queen," or simply, "Queen Ann." But her royal status wasn't bequeathed without merit. Richard Parsons, chairman and CEO of parent Time Warner Inc., notes that Ms. Moore "earned her spurs" by working her way up through the ranks, starting as a corporate financial analyst in 1978, moving to senior roles at Money and Sports Illustrated, and eventually running People magazine. Her crowning achievement: the launch of InStyle, a major revenue engine for the company.
"I'm pleased with her leadership," says Mr. Parsons. "She has her fingers on the pulse."
That can be a challenge in this difficult period in the magazine industry. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, ad revenue through August was down significantly from a year earlier in publications like Fortune, Time and Sports Illustrated. Ms. Moore expects ad growth for all of 2005 to be in the high single digits, down from the 12% compounded average for the past five years.
She has tried to tap new growth markets and reorganize to adapt to shifts in ad spending. She expanded Time Inc.'s limited international publishing with the acquisition of Grupo Editorial Expansión, the second-largest publisher in Mexico; and she bought Essence Communications Inc., publisher of Essence, the leading African-American women's title.
Ms. Moore wants to keep expanding Time into other categories as well, making magazines that target younger men and women, while also pruning odds and ends that no longer fit. Ultimately, she says, she'll rely on what she does best: "You gotta keep launching."
-- Joe Hagan
10. Safra Catz
In Oracle Corp.'s crowded stable of presidents, Safra Catz is first among equals.
The Redwood City, Calif., software giant has three co-presidents, all with backgrounds in finance and banking rather than engineering or programming. Charles Phillips, a former Morgan Stanley financial analyst, runs sales and marketing. Greg Maffei, once Microsoft Corp.'s chief financial officer, holds the same title at Oracle. Ms. Catz, an investment banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette for more than a decade, handles support and services and oversees Oracle's active acquisitions strategy.
The unusual structure has given rise to considerable speculation about succession plans when and if Larry Ellison, Oracle's chief executive, steps aside. Mr. Ellison, 61 years old, recently clarified his position, describing Ms. Catz as Oracle's de facto chief operating officer and suggesting that she would step into his shoes in the event he met an untimely demise.
In the meantime, "it's her job to do as much of my job as she can so I don't have to do it myself," Mr. Ellison said in a recent meeting with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors.
Ms. Catz, 43, first met Mr. Ellison through her work at DLJ, which had done investment banking for Oracle. In 1999, she told Mr. Ellison she was tired of traveling, and he invited her to join Oracle as a senior vice president. She quickly established herself as his gatekeeper and enforcer, dogging other executives to follow through on his orders. She was named co-president early last year.
Ms. Catz has survived longer than most No. 2s to Mr. Ellison, who has run the company since he founded it 28 years ago. That's in part because she leaves the spotlight to Mr. Ellison and has no obvious ambitions for the top job, while being tough enough to push back against her mercurial boss. Intensely private, she declines most interview requests. But she gave a hint of her operating style earlier this year, in answer to a question about the dearth of women in technology after an appearance at the Women's High-Tech Coalition, a Silicon Valley group. "You have to be better," she said. "You have got to work harder, work longer, be louder."
Ms. Catz took the lead in integrating Oracle's $10.6 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft, after managing the grueling, 18-month takeover battle. Now she's expected to do the same with the company's planned $5.85 billion acquisition of Siebel Systems Inc., though Mr. Phillips handled the merger negotiations. Ms. Catz honed her skills restructuring Oracle itself, forcing the company to end its free-spending ways after the end of the technology boom. Operating profits were 34% of revenue in the fiscal year ended May 31, up from 21% during the boom years.
Her services have been well rewarded, with a fiscal 2005 salary and bonus of $5.7 million, more than double her pay of $2.7 million the previous year.
-- David Bank
11. Linda Cook
Executive Director, Gas and Power, Royal Dutch Shell
More than a year after being named to the inner circle at Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Linda Cook has helped seal a handful of megadeals that the British-Dutch oil giant hopes will catapult it past last year's devastating energy-accounting scandal.
In February, Ms. Cook -- who runs Shell's natural-gas and power operations, one of the company's three core businesses -- announced a deal with gas-rich Qatar to invest some $7 billion to drill for natural gas and send it to energy-hungry Europe and the U.S. In the months that followed, Shell moved ahead on a number of other gas projects -- from liquefied natural-gas plants in Nigeria and Australia to big sales agreements for its gas output from a giant plant in Russia.
While gas and power projects currently make up just a slice of Shell's earnings -- which are running at stratospheric levels because of high oil prices and refining margins -- Ms. Cook's unit accounts for a giant chunk of new business that Shell expects will bear fruit in years to come. Shell is the world's third-largest publicly traded oil company by market capitalization, behind Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC.
More than any of its peers, Shell is betting big on natural gas to meet future growth in demand for energy. Gas has long played second fiddle to oil in the world's petroleum industry, partly because it's so difficult to transport to markets. Supercooling the gas into liquid form and then shipping it by tanker has been an option for decades. But until recently, the relatively low price of gas in many markets didn't justify the expense.
Shell was the subject of a punishing investigation in 2004 by U.S. and British regulators over the company's overstated energy-reserves tally, a crucial investor metric. Part of the fallout was a major restructuring, completed earlier this year, which elevated Ms. Cook, 47 years old, to Shell's top management.
Ms. Cook graduated from the University of Kansas with a petroleum-engineering degree and joined Shell Oil Co. in Houston in 1980. She worked for Shell in Texas and California in a number of technical and managerial roles.
In 2000, she was named to lead the gas and power division for the first time around, based in London. While that job included the same operational responsibilities as her current role, she hadn't yet made it to Shell's executive committee, its top decision-making body. In 2003, she moved to Canada, where she served as president and CEO of Shell Canada, one of the country's largest integrated oil companies.
Ms. Cook moved her family to The Hague in the Netherlands late last year as part of the restructuring. But she spends a good deal of her time jetting to and from Shell's far-flung operations.
Asked by colleagues what keeps her up at night, Ms. Cook says she responds, "My three teenagers, and turbulence."
-- Chip Cummins
12. Valerie Hermann
Chief Executive, Yves Saint Laurent
When Valerie Hermann became chief executive of the Yves Saint Laurent brand in January, she took over an iconic name in international fashion. But her task -- turning YSL into a profit-making company -- is one of the hardest in the business today.
Ms. Hermann's success will depend on whether she's able to balance the creative legacy of the YSL brand, for the past three seasons in the hands of Italian designer Stefano Pilati, with the commercial need to sell clothes and handbags. That means keeping YSL handbags on the arms of A-list celebrities, but also getting more shoppers into the brand's expensive network of boutiques world-wide.
What makes Ms. Hermann's job even harder is the expectation that for years has been building around the YSL label, which was bought by Gucci Group NV in 1999 for $1 billion. Gucci's former top managers Domenico de Sole and Tom Ford began working on the brand, but in 2001 the luxury-goods industry slumped into a downturn, taking YSL's business with it. In the first six months of 2005, YSL lost €40 million (about $48 million) on €72 million in sales. Today, Gucci's new CEO, Robert Polet, acknowledges YSL won't break even for at least three years.
Beyond the fashion world, YSL's turnaround is crucial for French conglomerate PPR Group SA. PPR is betting future earnings on its wholly owned Gucci Group, which includes the Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen fashion labels as well as YSL.
Ms. Hermann, 42, has experience with suffering brands. Gucci poached the petite, energetic manager from archrival LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA. There, she used to run women's ready-to-wear at the Christian Dior brand, which has experienced a major revamp over the past decade after disappearing from the fashion map for most of the 1980s and 1990s. She was also the business brain behind the John Galliano label, where she helped improve sales of some of the most outlandish creations in the fashion world. Ms. Hermann is highly respected by executives at U.S. department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue.
For her first six months on the job, Ms. Hermann kept a low profile, coming to grips with the business. During the Paris fashion shows earlier this month, however, she made a rare public appearance, hosting a YSL-sponsored art exhibit and gala dinner at the Centre Pompidou. The party, which drew fashion editors, retail executives and a smattering of French celebrities, was a rare occasion for YSL as well. The company hadn't organized such a high-profile event in years.
-- Alessandra Galloni
13. Yoshie Motohiro
Managing Director, Nissan Motor India
Women are still so rare at the top of major Japanese companies that Nissan Motor Co.'s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, recently made a commitment to fill 5% of top management posts with women. One example Mr. Ghosn can point to as he promotes this goal is Yoshie Motohiro, Nissan's head of operations in India. She is one of the company's highest-profile female executives and the first woman at Nissan to run an overseas subsidiary.
Ms. Motohiro, 43 years old, has a tough job ahead of her. Many car makers are setting up major operations in India, including U.S. competitors like General Motors Corp., as well as Nissan's archrivals from Japan, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. And South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co., a strong competitor that has grabbed the attention of all of Japan's car markets, is now the second-largest car producer in India behind GM, and ramping up production fast.
Nissan has been late to this market, but one of the things Ms. Motohiro will have going for her is that the Indian market is still developing, creating opportunities for newcomers. The Indian market is still small, with this year's sales expected to total 1.1 million vehicles, compared with three million for China. But the 24% increase in car sales in India in 2004 made it the world's fastest-growing market in percentage terms, and Ms. Motohiro expects sales to reach two million by 2010.
One of her jobs, she says, is to make sure that India isn't overlooked because of all the interest in China.
"Nissan has been allocating a lot to China," Ms. Motohiro says. "I need to appeal to Nissan so that it allocates resources to India. This is challenging." Nissan is widely anticipated to become the next car maker to set up a plant in India, and Ms. Motohiro suggested such a move is a matter of when, not if. "We can't just keep importing cars to India," she says.
India poses hurdles to new entrants, including labor strife and a weak infrastructure, but Ms. Motohiro has cut her teeth on tough challenges during her 20 years at Nissan. She has been in charge of marketing and sales for big sections of the Asian region. When heading up the sales team for Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, she was credited for Nissan's achieving the top sales status in Singapore for several years running. She has also headed up the restructuring of Nissan's operations in Brunei, and spearheaded the company's recent foray into Pakistan.
Ms. Motohiro is based in Tokyo, and travels to India about once a month for visits that average a little over a week. At some point, she may have to consider a move to India. "The countries I've been involved in until now were considered minor countries," she says. "This is different. I feel a lot of responsibility."
-- Jathon Sapsford
14. Christine Poon
Vice Chairman, Johnson & Johnson
Christine Poon hasn't wasted any time joining the top-executive ranks at Johnson & Johnson. The health-care products giant named her a vice chairman in January, only five years after she joined the company from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
With her quick promotion to the uppermost echelon, Ms. Poon, now 53 years old, became the third member of the chairman's office, alongside 34-year company veteran William Weldon, chairman and chief executive, and Robert Darretta, chief financial officer and also a vice chairman, who has been with the company since 1968.
Since shortly after moving to Johnson & Johnson in 2000, Ms. Poon has managed the drug and biotechnology operations that are the company's largest source of sales and profits. As steward of the pharmaceuticals franchise, Ms. Poon follows in the footsteps of Mr. Weldon, 56, who moved up to chief executive and chairman in 2002. Ms. Poon was elected to the company's board in April.
Trained in biology, Ms. Poon turned to business when admission to medical school seemed unlikely. She holds a master's degree in biochemistry from St. Louis University and an M.B.A. from Boston University. Before joining Johnson & Johnson, Ms. Poon was in charge of Bristol-Myers's international business, experience that has served her well in managing Johnson & Johnson's far-flung operations. All told, she says, she has spent almost 80% of her career running businesses outside the U.S.
Ms. Poon also has thrived in Johnson & Johnson's decentralized corporate structure by cultivating management talent and common values. With more than 220 operating units around the world, Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., has made decentralization its mantra. "The most important thing a leader can do is find good people and match them with what they like to do and what they're good at," she says.
In pursuit of that goal, she spends a lot of time in the field. At least once or twice each week she's out of the office visiting one of the units she oversees, such as Ortho-Biotech, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Centocor. This summer she traveled twice to Asia, made a trip to Europe, and headed to the West Coast, where the company's operations have grown in recent years through the acquisition of biotech company Scios and drug-formulation specialist Alza.
Ms. Poon embraces her role in a system that encourages autonomy among the people she oversees. In more-centralized companies, she says, people tend to look toward the top for answers. "But you can't run a company of more than 100,000 people," she says, "waiting for the top to tell them what to do."
-- Scott Hensley
15. Renetta McCann
Chief Executive, Starcom MediaVest Group
The advertising industry is littered with creative executives who view their world as a branch of Hollywood. But as audience fragmentation, new technologies and consumers' busy lifestyles all pressure the decades-old advertising model, ad placement is becoming just as important as what the ad says. As a result, Renetta McCann is playing an increasingly important role.
Ms. McCann, 48 years old, is the chief executive of Starcom MediaVest, the media-buying behemoth that is owned by advertising company Publicis Groupe SA. The firm negotiates prices for ad placement and figures out which media outlets should get marketers' ad dollars. It currently buys about $18 billion a year in media time for big-spending marketers such as Coca-Cola Co. and Kellogg Co.
Earlier this year, Ms. McCann and her team landed General Motors Corp.'s $3.2 billion media-buying account. That extended a string of new business, including a large portion of the media-planning duties for Procter & Gamble Co.'s $3.5 billion North American advertising account.
With such an outstanding track record, Ms. McCann was promoted earlier this month to the top job at Starcom MediaVest.
One of the highest-ranking African-Americans in the ad industry, Ms. McCann was born in Chicago and graduated from Northwestern University. She first joined the agency, which was then part of Leo Burnett, in 1978 as a client-service trainee working on brands such as Keebler and Heinz. She was named a vice president in 1988 and became a media director the following year. She was elected a senior vice president in 1995 and elevated to chief executive of the Americas last year.
As the power of television advertising diminishes, Ms. McCann and her team are the executives in charge of redefining advertising. The Starcom MediaVest division charged with buying ad time used to be called the "broadcast investment group"; today it's the "video investment group." Why the change? "We didn't want to limit how we view the market," Ms. McCann says. "We see a world populated by video screens -- not just TV screens, but screens on phones, computers and even screens in elevators and cabs."
So where else is Ms. McCann heading in her work? One hint may lie in a book she just finished reading, "Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life," by Steven Johnson. The book is about how the brain works and how consumers process information.
Ms. McCann says she is aware of two advertisers who are actively pursuing neuroscience to figure out how they can better connect with consumers. "How advertisers now begin to create messages and what they trigger inside the human [mind] may be what lies ahead," she says.
-- Suzanne Vranica
16. Anne Sweeney
President, Disney-ABC Television Group
It's telling that Anne Sweeney enjoys hawking expeditions. Hawks are elegant fighters, and so is she.
The 47-year-old executive doesn't wear bravado on her sleeve like many TV moguls. She's soft-spoken, self-effacing -- even nice. Yet Ms. Sweeney has proved she has the talons needed to survive in the television business, spending the past nine years climbing to the top of Walt Disney Co.'s TV empire.
As president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, Ms. Sweeney is responsible for ABC, the Touchstone TV studio, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, SoapNet and ABC Family, among other units. After a dismal start to the decade, the group is now on fire. ABC's ad sales are up 31% this season from last. Touchstone is producing 18 series, its best tally since the early 1990s. And international revenue is soaring, with stations in China buying "Desperate Housewives" and Disney Channel launching in four new Asian markets.
"Desperate Housewives" is a high-profile success, but it's an assignment out of the public eye that makes Ms. Sweeney an executive to watch. She is charged with navigating Disney through the thicket of problems facing its television business. Chief among them: the advance of broadband and wireless technologies, which promise to drastically change how people watch TV -- and how TV companies get paid.
The decisions Ms. Sweeney makes in this area will help shape not only Disney's television business, but also the TV industry as a whole. "As our viewers evolve and find new ways to get content, we have to be there," she says. "That means putting aside some very traditional thinking."
ABC News Now, launched last winter, gives viewers the ability to access content from ABC News on mobile phones, video-enabled handheld devices and computers. Ms. Sweeney recently brokered a wide-ranging deal with Verizon Communications Inc. that includes delivering content from ABC's stable of soaps on the Internet. Disney Channel, meanwhile, is experimenting with video-on-demand offerings.
In a business famous for megalomaniac executives, Ms. Sweeney stands out for a willingness to share the spotlight, says Rich Ross, president of Disney Channel Worldwide. "So many times in Hollywood, the junior executive becomes a ghostwriter," he says. "It doesn't work that way with Anne. She's also a listener, and that's a rare commodity in entertainment."
Ms. Sweeney's first taste of the TV business came at age 19, when she was hired as an ABC page. After earning a master's degree in education from Harvard, she joined Nickelodeon in 1981 and spent 12 years at the children's network. In 1993, Rupert Murdoch chose her to launch FX, his first foray into cable. It became one of the largest basic-cable launches in history, in terms of the number of homes initially reached. She took over Disney Channel in 1996.
-- Brooks Barnes
17. Ann Livermore
Executive Vice President, Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard Co. has a lot riding on Ann Livermore.
Ms. Livermore, 47 years old, oversees the business unit that is particularly crucial to H-P, the Palo Alto, Calif., technology behemoth. She is executive vice president in charge of H-P's technology-solutions group, which sells servers, storage devices, software and services. The technology-solutions group is H-P's largest division by revenue, earning nearly $30 billion in sales for the fiscal year ended last Oct. 29. That's about 37% of H-P's annual revenue.
For years, H-P has struggled to turn around some of the unit's declining businesses, such as servers and storage. If Ms. Livermore can successfully boost the profitability and growth of those businesses -- and thus of the division as a whole -- H-P's financial results would benefit hugely, Wall Street analysts say.
So far, the jury is still out. On the plus side: The server and storage businesses, as well as services, are posting profits. What's more, the software unit's losses have narrowed. But growth has been choppy, and H-P faces fierce competition in these areas with rivals such as International Business Machines Corp. and Dell Inc.
Ms. Livermore has moved to strengthen the businesses by introducing a revamped line of storage products and making a number of acquisitions to build up the software line. In August, H-P agreed to buy software company Peregrine Systems Inc. for $425 million. "Our strategy is to enable chief information officers to manage the technology environment in an efficient and cost-effective manner," she has said.
Some H-P observers are betting Ms. Livermore will succeed. Born in Greensboro, N.C., she is an H-P veteran who has survived several big shifts at the company, including the 2002 acquisition of Compaq Computer and several chief-executive changes. Indeed, Ms. Livermore, who holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.B.A. from Stanford University, has been at H-P since 1982 and has worked in a variety of sales, marketing, and research and development jobs at the Silicon Valley bellwether.
Ms. Livermore's name is sometimes mentioned as a possible candidate to take the corner office at other technology companies. It happened last year when the CEO post at software company Computer Associates International Inc. became vacant. Her name came up again this year at H-P when Carly Fiorina was ousted as CEO. Ms. Livermore, who ultimately didn't land the top jobs, has declined to comment on such possible moves. (John Swainson from IBM was eventually tapped to join Computer Associates, while Mark Hurd from NCR Corp. was picked to be H-P's new CEO.)
Ms. Livermore recently took a six-week break from work when she had a kidney transplant for an undisclosed ailment. She returned to work in September. "I'm feeling great," she says. "It's good to be back at work."
-- Pui-Wing Tam
18. Nancy Peretsman
Managing Director, Allen & Co.
Having grown up the daughter of a therapist, Nancy Peretsman still takes her mother's words to heart: "People don't change unless they're in pain."
So with technology and competition squeezing every corner of the cable, Internet, radio and publishing businesses, the 51-year-old managing director at investment bank Allen & Co. sums up the state of her world with customary efficiency: "Big pain. Big change."
With little fanfare, Ms. Peretsman, who works with media companies, helped guide the $17.5 billion sale of Adelphia Communications Corp. to Time Warner Corp. and Comcast Corp. earlier this year. She was behind the scenes at Google Inc.'s highly scrutinized $1.7 billion initial public offering. And she remains a guiding hand in what feels like every Internet media deal of the past year -- from the $200 million sale of pipsqueak site TripAdvisor to the continuing negotiations on the fate of America Online.
"There are other bankers on Wall Street who do big media deals," says William Ford, the president of private-equity firm General Atlantic. But "no one is more plugged in to the strategic dialogues with CEOs of the industry, and that's a big difference."
Mr. Ford and Ms. Peretsman helped back the formation of the travel Web site Priceline.com back in the 1990s, and today Mr. Ford calls her "very clairvoyant" for recognizing early on that the Internet could create -- and destroy -- the media order.
That was the easy part in establishing Ms. Peretsman's Internet bona fides. The hard part was doggedly sticking to that thesis earlier in this decade, when Internet businesses were staggering toward extinction. Ms. Peretsman and Allen -- with about 50 dealmakers on staff -- began seeding these companies with fresh cash, while holding their hands through the turmoil by brokering outside investments and steering the companies to new strategies.
Adelphia's chief executive, William Schleyer, says that Ms. Peretsman learned well from her therapist mother. "Nancy will be sitting in the corner, with her fingers on her chin, and looking at you like you should be on the couch," he says. With just a few insightful words, "she helps you figure something out."
Ms. Peretsman's hunches have paid off handsomely over the past year, as Internet properties of every stripe have attracted lavish valuations from huge media conglomerates under pressure to change.
Aligning all those moving pieces is what still motivates Ms. Peretsman. "This is the most interesting time in history for me, bar none," she says. And "I get a great pleasure in being right."
-- Dennis K. Berman
19. Joyce Chang
Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Chase
Even by Wall Street's frenetic standards, Joyce Chang stands out for her hustle and self-demanding work ethic.
As head of emerging-markets research, the 40-year-old managing director at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. travels monthly to Asia, Europe and Latin America, to organize meetings of fund managers with heads of state, local economists and business leaders. When not abroad, Ms. Chang is often found on the shuttle to Washington, D.C., joining clients for meetings with the nation's power brokers or World Bank officials.
Yet, despite her already-crowded schedule, J.P. Morgan took the unusual step last year of asking Ms. Chang to oversee foreign-exchange and commodities research, too. She now has a staff of nearly 100 people in 16 cities and is responsible for guiding investor strategy in three of the hottest areas in financial markets.
A 16-year veteran of the industry, Ms. Chang has continued a winning streak that she started with Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch & Co. Institutional Investor magazine has named her the No. 1 emerging-markets sovereign-debt strategist for eight straight years. European and Latin American financial publications also have consistently ranked her group at the top. And many of her research analysts have followed her from one firm to the next.
What distinguishes her research, many investors say, is Ms. Chang's insistence that political analysis never gets short shrift to economic considerations. In a field traditionally run by men with doctorates in economics, Ms. Chang's approach to emerging markets reflects her own background, which includes a master's in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
"The most common error is fixating on one economic indicator or falling in love with a particular country because you analyze it so much," she says. "The numbers can look great, but the predictability of policy may not be assured."
Some investors wonder if Ms. Chang's commute between Washington and New York will one day have the nation's capital as its base. According to J.P. Morgan insiders, the Bush administration has offered Ms. Chang a job at the Treasury Department more than once.
For now, though, she says she's still excited about working with emerging markets. After the Asian and Russian financial crisis dealt these countries a crippling blow, governments have steadied their economies by reducing debt and building up foreign reserves. The next step of this evolution, she says, is that these countries will increasingly issue debt in their currency, rather than dollars, and that's where her research team is focusing.
"At some point," she says of the lure of Washington, "I'll probably be in a more public-policy role. But I love working with emerging markets. That's something, personally and professionally, I'll always want to do."
-- Craig Karmin
20. Marluce Dias da Silva
Adviser, TV Globo
Marluce Dias da Silva has made her mark at TV Globo, the largest broadcast network in Latin America, by introducing management methods that have saved the Brazilian company millions of dollars.
And it's an efficiency model other family-owned media companies have since emulated.
Ms. Dias da Silva, who has worked at Globo for the past 14 years, recently became a strategy adviser to the Marinho family, which owns the privately held network. In this powerful post, she is now even better positioned to guide the network's continued growth.
Her tenure as Globo's managing director has been a sharp departure from the free-spending management style of her predecessor, Globo's celebrated head of production, José Bonifácio de Oliveira Sobrinho, who used to offer Globo's stars generous pay packages.
During her tenure, she treated the network's schedule like a consumer product, launching new shows four times a year, as opposed to one yearly programming change before. Focusing on the bottom line, Ms. Dias da Silva has cut benefits, downsized contracts, and restrained spending at the core creation and production departments. And by investing in new shows, she has boosted advertising revenue. Globo says it couldn't provide specifics on the boost in revenue that could be linked to Ms. Dias da Silva's actions.
But these changes have ruffled a few feathers, especially those of Globo's old guard, who complained that personal talent should not be subjected to evaluation methods that only focus on the bottom line.
Ms. Dias da Silva declines to comment on her tenure.
In the mid-1990s, Ms. Dias da Silva was in charge of the project to build a $125 million Hollywood-style production complex named Projac in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Projac helped Globo to save money by centralizing production that had been scattered throughout several studios across town. Those savings helped Globo a few years later when it was battered by big losses in its cable-TV unit, an advertising slowdown and a currency devaluation.
Betania Tanure, a management professor at Fundação Dom Cabral, a Brazilian business school, defines Ms. Dias da Silva's management style as "conceptual and consistent." Ms. Tanure says "she knows how to balance business strategy and people management."
Today, Globo is both an artistic and political powerhouse. It produces 2,500 hours of programming per year. Its widely watched newscasts target corrupt politicians and its soap operas mesmerize audiences in 120 countries from Cuba to Turkey and Thailand. In Brazil, the network commands 53% of the audience share and 75% of the television industry's advertising revenue.
-- Geraldo Samor
21. Tami Booth Corwin
President, Rodale Books
In November 2001, Tami Booth Corwin bought a proposal for a diet book and changed the face of book marketing.
Aided by an innovative subscription-driven Web campaign, "The South Beach Diet" now has an estimated 10 million copies in print in the U.S. in hardcover and paperback.
In recognition, Ms. Corwin, 38 years old, was made president of her company's $200 million books division this past June.
Today, as president and editor in chief of Rodale Books, a unit of closely held media company Rodale Inc., she is leading one of the most striking makeovers in book publishing as she attempts to transform the health and fitness company into a mainstream publishing house.
She's already having an impact: One of Rodale's lead fall books, "New Rules" by political commentator Bill Maher, quickly hit the national best-seller lists.
"This wouldn't have happened two years ago because Rodale wouldn't have published such a book and Bill Maher would never have dreamt of taking his book there," says New York literary agent Richard Pine.
Earlier this month, Rodale published "The Martha Rules," a business handbook written by Martha Stewart.
Ms. Corwin says rival publishers don't stay close to their customers -- and are paying the price. By contrast, she has been able to harness extensive personal data collected by Rodale's magazine group. She has emphasized reader surveys, focus groups and communication with readers via the Web. And she sends editors to trade shows so they'll know what's going on in the industries that will eventually drive book ideas.
"By staying close," she says, "you can make good decisions when a proposal comes in because your choices are market-driven. Many houses, I think, buy books, edit them, and then hand the manuscript off to the public-relations and marketing folks. What we try to do is envision the marketing from the day we sit with an author or agent and first discuss the concept for the book and what they are trying to accomplish."
Unlike many people in book publishing, Ms. Corwin didn't start as an editorial assistant. Instead, she has an outsider approach that has, so far, served her well. After college, Ms. Corwin went to work at a regional business journal in Princeton, N.J. She then joined a publisher of professional books as a marketing associate, working on things like direct mail and advertising to professional groups. Later she moved into editorial.
Ms. Corwin joined Rodale in 2000 as executive editor of the women's book group. Within six months, she was named editor in chief of the group. Now she'll have to prove she can continue to expand the business after "South Beach."
"The great thing about publishing is that great books come along every year," she says. "The important thing is to be ready for them and hopefully get them. Then you need to be creative."
-- Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg