Fortune’s writeup from 1998: Oprah’s power is her influence — over the entertainment industry, the book-publishing business, mass culture. Via her syndicated TV show, she reaches 33 million people weekly in the U.S., plus millions more in 135 international markets. Via deals with Disney, she produces socially conscious TV movies and feature films. Via Oprah’s Book Club, she drives the market for serious fiction.
Fortune’s writeup from 1998: The yank running this venerable British media conglomerate–home to the Financial Times, The Economist, Penguin Putnam books, and TV’s Baywatch–is making some brash moves: She’s buying Simon & Schuster’s educational publishing unit, which will make Pearson the world’s largest in that field. Combined revenues total $5.3 billion; about 60% of that comes from the U.S.
*Scardino is the only International MPW on this allstar list, as her first appearance was on Fortune’s domestic Most Powerful Women in Business list.
Fortune’s writeup from 1999: Late last year, after stints as president of Chevron Canada and Chevron International, Woertz took charge of the fourth-largest oil company’s biggest division. That’s $16 billion worth of refining, transporting, marketing, and selling at the pump.
Fortune’s writeup from 1998: A merchandising hotshot, she moved from class (Neiman Marcus) to mass (Avon) in 1993–so impressively that she beat out company veterans for the presidency late last year. “What did it for me? It wasn’t my education or experience. It’s my passion,” Jung says. High-energy and high-style, she’s heir apparent to CEO Charlie Perrin. In July, Jack Welch recruited her for the GE board.
Fortune’s writeup from 1998: Johnson is the heir apparent to the nation’s largest mutual fund family, with more than $600 billion in mutual fund assets. She holds a 24.5% interest in Fidelity’s parent company, FMR, and appears to be starting to take the same quiet–and careful–steps father Ned Johnson III took years ago before he grabbed the reins of the company. While Johnson has managed a few funds over the years and now oversees a portion of Fidelity’s equity investments, she’s kept a very low profile within the hallowed walls of the Boston-based firm and within the mutual fund industry itself. That’s sent mixed signals as to whether she actually wants the throne or not. If and when she nabs that top spot, she’ll quickly shoot up in our rankings. Consider her a top five power woman-in-waiting.
*Johnson fell off the list in 2000.
Fortune’s writeup from 2000: The Indian-born Nooyi is a key advisor to CEO Roger Enrico. She helped him make the right moves, like the spinoff of PepsiCo’s restaurant and bottling businesses. She also pushed hard for Pepsi to buy Tropicana. It’s all paying off. After several flat years, the stock is fizzing.
Fortune’s writeup from 2000: She is Larry Ellison’s EVP and chief of staff, “akin to being COO,” he says. He adds that Catz, whom he recruited from DLJ last year, is one of two candidates to replace him “in the next four years.” Take it with a ton of salt: The high-control Ellison has never shared power at Oracle. Show us, Larry, and we’ll move Catz up the list.
Fortune’s writeup from 1998: “Judy is the goddess of creativity,” says her friend Gerry Laybourne (No. 20). McGrath rules youth culture, delivering Beavis and Butt-head and videos of the Backstreet Boys to 85 countries around the world. After straying from its music roots, Viacom’s MTV recently got its rhythm back. Ratings are rising. So are revenues, which are expected to exceed $550 million this year. The most important music maven for any record exec to meet, the self-effacing McGrath began at MTV writing on-air promotions in 1981, the cable channel’s startup year. “For a long time, people kept saying, ‘MTV won’t last,’ ” she says. “But it has and it’s always changing. I need to be part of something that’s constantly evolving, that’s not established.” Coming this fall is a little revolution: MTV is expanding into Russia. Also, McGrath has branched into filmmaking. She’s working with her Viacom colleague, Sherry Lansing, to co-produce Paramount-MTV movies.
Fortune’s writeup from 1998: In August, Sweeney accepted the job of filling the big shoes vacated by Gerry Laybourne as the highest-ranking woman in cable. She oversees ABC’s Disney Channel and its interests in Lifetime, A&E, The History Channel, and E! Entertainment. Cable is the moneymaker for ABC, and Sweeney’s mission will be to tweak programming and boost revenues.
*Sweeney fell off the list in 1999 and 2000.
Fortune’s writeup from 1998: Moore’s power is over popular culture. She runs the world’s most successful magazine. Covers on the sexiest men, the best- and worst-dressed celebrities, and Leonardo DiCaprio are part of the American fabric. Moore has added to that influence (and People‘s $1 billion in revenues) with hot new titles like Teen People, People en Espanol, and In Style.
Fortune’s writeup from 1999: Carly Fiorina’s linchpin. The e-commerce evangelist is leading the revolution to make HP an Internet power. Promoted late last year, she now oversees $14 billion in sales.
Fortune’s writeup from 1999: Although eBay’s stock is in a dot-com downturn, Whitman’s company defies the Internet odds: It makes money–it has from the beginning–and she’s never missed her targets. Talk about influence: She changed the way people buy and sell, and launched a consumer revolution. In 1999, $2.8 billion worth of goods were sold through eBay, and in the first half of 2000, $2.5 billion worth were auctioned.
*Whitman fell of the list in 2008, and appeared again in 2011, when she became the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
Fortune’s writeup from 1998: Black doesn’t create the pure profit that Ann Moore (No. 17) does at People, but she’s turned around the bleak financial story for the world’s largest publisher of monthly magazines. Her collection includes Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Popular Mechanics, Esquire, and a dozen others. A most-wanted corporate director, Black sits on the boards of IBM and Coca-Cola.
Fortune’s writeup from 1999: Lazarus’ clients are global and blue-chip: IBM, American Express, Kodak, Ford, Mattel. Billings of $8.8 billion last year (generating revenues of $1 billion) make Ogilvy the seventh-largest ad agency in the world. A 27-year Ogilvy veteran, Lazarus is the steady, pragmatic captain after her capricious and charismatic predecessor, Charlotte Beers, turned the ship around.