The Most Powerful Women in Business

By Beth Kowitt and Rupali Arora, Fortune.com

There's been plenty of turmoil atop Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women list. Meg Whitman crashed the party, coming in at No. 9 when she became CEO of Hewlett-Packard. (As CEO of eBay, she was on the list from 1999 to 2007.) Longtime MPW Carol Bartz lost her job as CEO of Yahoo -- and her place on the list -- while Oprah Winfrey fell 10 spots to No. 16, her power and influence in flux without the platform of her eponymous syndicated talk show.

Perhaps the biggest change of all? Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld takes the No. 1 position from PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi, who topped the list for five years. This ranking is all about power, and while Nooyi runs the bigger company, Rosenfeld's decision to split Kraft into two entities shows she has it and knows how to use it.

But for all these high profile changes, there are many more women making big moves with little fanfare. Wal-Mart's Rosalind Brewer (No. 23) has an important new job, running all of the retailer's stores in the East. In addition to Whitman, there are four other females who became CEOs of Fortune 500 companies since our last power ranking. That brings the total number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 to 15 -- up from just two on our list when it debuted in 1998.

1. Irene Rosenfeld
2010 Rank: 2
Age: 58
Company: Kraft Foods (KFT)
Title: Chairman and CEO

Rosenfeld made a big show of power this year with her decision to split Kraft into two companies, a reversal of her previous strategy of expanding through acquisitions (like the 2010 purchase of Cadbury). Her new role hasn't been decided but she plans to remain CEO until the deal's expected close in 2012.

2. Indra Nooyi
2010 Rank: 1
Age: 55
Company: PepsiCo (PEP)
Title: CEO and chairman

On Nooyi's watch, PepsiCo has forged further into nutrition-focused products, a business that the company is trying to grow to $30 billion in 2020 from about $10 billion in 2010. But Nooyi has been criticized for taking her eye off the core North American soda business, which has lost share to Coke.

3. Patricia Woertz
2010 rank: 3
Age: 58
Company: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)
Title: Chairman, CEO, and president

The processor of agricultural commodities like oil seeds, corn, and wheat boosted fiscal 2011 sales thanks to increased demand. The onetime accountant and former oil executive has pushed into developing regions such as South America, with plans to build a biodiesel plant in Brazil and a soybean facility in Paraguay.

4. Ellen Kullman
2010 rank: 7
Age: 55
Company: DuPont
Title: Chairman and CEO

In May she completed her biggest move yet with the $6.4 billion acquisition of Danish food ingredient producer Danisco, shifting the chemical company more toward food and nutrition. Analysts credit her with DuPont's turnaround in the stock market: Shares have returned 99%, vs. 37% for the S&P, since she took over in 2009.

5. Angela Braly
2010 rank: 4
Age: 51
Company: Wellpoint (WLP)
Title: Chairman, president, and CEO

Braly's reach is unquestionable: With 34 million members, health insurer WellPoint touches one in nine Americans covered. Now she's tapping into the Medicare market with the purchase of senior health care provider CareMore. Her challenge: translating customer growth into higher profits.

6. Andrea Jung
2010 rank: 5
Age: 53
Company: Avon Products (AVP)
Title: Chairman and CEO

As Avon marks its 125th year, sales have risen to nearly $11 billion. Investments abroad have paid off, with double-digit sales growth in most regions, though the stock is flagging. But Jung, who has run Avon for 12 years, is the longest-serving woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and she sits on the Apple and GE boards.

7. Ginni Rometty
2010 rank: 8
Age: 54
Company: IBM (IBM)
Title: SVP and group executive, IBM sales, marketing, and strategy

Rometty may be Big Blue's next CEO. A 30-year IBM veteran, she added marketing and strategy oversight to her role last year. The move helps position her as one of the company's top two candidates to replace current CEO Sam Palmisano when he retires.

8. Ursula Burns
2010 rank: 9
Age: 53
Company: Xerox (XRX)
Title: Chairman and CEO

Last year she closed the company's biggest deal ever -- the $6.4 billion acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services, which helped increase profits 25%. The ACS deal, once ballyhooed by investors, has been the crux of Burns' strategy to grow the services side of the business, now half of Xerox's revenue.

9. Meg Whitman
2010 rank: Return
Age: 55
Company: Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)
Title: CEO and president

She's back! In late September the losing California gubernatorial candidate -- and former No. 1 MPW -- was named CEO of HP, America's largest tech company by revenue. While her ascent to the role is a sure sign of her power, it remains to be seen if she can fix the computer maker and bring order to its dysfunctional board.

10. Sherilyn McCoy
2010 rank: 12
Age: 52
Company: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Title: Vice chairman, executive committee, office of the chairman

In December longtime J&J pharmaceuticals chief McCoy took on the health giant's troubled consumer business, along with corporate affairs. She oversees 60,000 employees. CEO Bill Weldon also named her vice chair, fueling fresh speculation that she's his likely successor.


Also See:
Full List | 100 Fastest-Growing Companies | World's Most Admired Companies

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57 Comments

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Devon

Thank you for this Ron!! It's a pleasure to read about successful women (and men).... I find those who can't be happy for others success are just plain unhappy folks looking for company in their misery.. for ways to remain on the pity pot..
thank you!

November 05 2011 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ilm9p

Iron my shirt, B!tch!

September 30 2011 at 6:58 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ilm9p's comment
Devon

scary

November 05 2011 at 9:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pangai

Truly outstanding role-models for women and men

September 29 2011 at 10:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
wllthompson8

DARLA MOORE RAINWATER PROBABLY BELONGS ON THIS LIST SOME WHERE .SHE HAS BEAT UP ON A FEW GIANTS IN HER TIME

September 29 2011 at 8:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jc2009USA

Way to go ladies...being a CEO myself I fully understand what ladders you have climbed and how hard and smart you have had to be to get there...and hopefully each of you will give a HANDUP not a HANDOUT to other women following in your footsteps. You make us proud of your accomplishments and leadership. Thank you on behalf of all working women.

September 29 2011 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jc2009USA's comment
Devon

Gimme a J (and a c2009USA) thank you for your smart and practical comment- what a pleasure! I just dont understand some of these comments... thank you for being a successful woman capable of communicating in the realm of normalcy!

November 05 2011 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dabrownman

Andrea Jung is the prettiest and that is the most important thing in any woman getting ahead. Personally I think it is something else but that is what the HUFF post AOL article said so I am probably wrong enough to be executed.

September 29 2011 at 5:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mamc707

So what value do these list have to the rest of us anyway???????????????????????

September 29 2011 at 4:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mamc707's comment
dabrownman

We are supposed to agree with A Huffington that women are important too and they deserve our respect and admiration :-)

September 29 2011 at 5:57 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Devon

how about inspiration...duh

November 05 2011 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jktejas

If men do not like successful women......than stay the hell away from them. My cynical observation is that those men who who decry women who are high achivers are the ones who also seek them out. For any number of reasons they don't think that a dependent, low achiever is good enough for them (and this is the kind of woman who is just hoping for their attentions.) Do I think they would be happy with a womam who is dependent or desperate or low achieving....or all three? No, I don't.......but since they are not happy with the success story.....they probably better figure out where their chances are better.....and it sure isn't with the woman who has her own money and career. I'm not out to change men with negative attitudes......what for? Leave them where they are.....complaining about women who don't behave like the ones they don't want to bother with in the first place. Either they figure it out or they don't, and if they don't.......so what?

September 29 2011 at 3:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
toddisit

Faces of the overpaid in America against a backdrop of job outsourcing, low wages and job cuts, let's celebrate!

September 29 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to toddisit's comment
Devon

So these women should be sorry for working hard and making (too much) money? Let me guess- they shouldnt be rewarded for their hard work and instead should be embarassed for making it 'big' because so many other 'less fortunates' got their degrees in unrealistic and low or non paying industries that have become economically unsustainable overtime- which is THEIR fault for being successful? So these women should 'dumb down' their success or even pay a larger than fair share of taxes to support those who are having more babies to add to their welfare checks and find other ways to get paid for doing nothing??!! Youre DARN RIGHT we should celebrate these women- the few successful ones that they are- you idiot.

November 05 2011 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mcwhomper

looks like meg whitman is the only honest one of the bunch the rest sent in pics of when they turned forty at most

September 29 2011 at 3:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mcwhomper's comment
Devon

gimme a break.. what does that have to do with the price of tea in China

November 05 2011 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply