By Fortune Editors
October 10, 2013

Ginni Rometty

In her second year as CEO, Rometty is sinking IBM’s resources into commercializing Watson, the Jeopardy-playing supercomputer. Rometty believes that Watson, a machine that can not only crunch numbers but also learn things, represents new sales opportunities for Big Blue. She’s also pushing into underserved markets—Africa, for example—and picking up new customers in marketing and finance, to keep the 102-year-old tech company ahead of the competition.


Indra Nooyi

The largest food and beverage company in the U.S. saw shares hit an all-time high earlier this year. Nooyi has expanded beyond the flat domestic soda business, entering fast-growing categories like yogurt and hummus. Pepsi today boasts 22 billion-dollar brands.


Ellen Kullman

Her reset of DuPont (selling commodity units, moving into high-margin areas) is paying off: The stock has more than doubled during her tenure, vs. the S&P 86% rise. Nevertheless, Kullman must contend with investor Nelson Peltz, who is likely to want more units shed.


Marillyn Hewson

Hewson stepped into the top job at Lockheed in January after its CEO-in-waiting suddenly resigned. She has since proved she was the right woman for the job all along: Under her leadership, profits and market value are up at the world’s largest defense contractor—despite federal budget cuts.


Sheryl Sandberg

This year the charismatic operating chief launched Lean In, a bestselling book/movement that made her a global celebrity (see related story). And she sent Facebook into the mobile computing game; $2 of every $5 in revenue is from mobile, vs. nothing in 2012.


Irene Rosenfeld

Now that she has divided Kraft in two, Rosenfeld oversees a smaller operation as head of Mondelez International (Kraft’s former global snacking business). Earnings beat expectations in the most recent quarter, but the business’s profit and revenue fell last year.


Patricia Woertz

Amid a historic U.S. drought, agri-giant ADM’s stock soared 45% in the 12 months ended Aug. 1. The CEO freed up $2 billion in cash by reducing inventory and selling noncore assets. Woertz is also making way for a $3.2 billion takeover of Australia’s GrainCorp.


Marissa Mayer

Not many CEOs can juggle buying a nearly revenueless company (Tumblr) for $1 billion, pose for a glam photo shoot (in Vogue), and devote a weekend to a task more suited to graphic designers (craft a new logo). Suffice it to say, not many CEOs are Marissa Mayer. Investors are happy: the stock is up 111% in the past 12 months, which has, in turn, lifted Mayer’s fortunes. Her 2012 total pay, including stock option awards, was $36.6 million, according to Equilar, a specialist in executive compensation data.


Meg Whitman

HP was a mess when Whitman arrived—and still is. Competition is brutal in the shrinking PC business, and the Dow Jones industrial average booted HP from its ranks. On the flip side, Whitman has juiced the stock 47% this year while rejiggering the management team.


Abigail Johnson

The secretive mutual fund giant finally tipped its hand on succession last year, giving Johnson a big promotion. She now oversees all of Fidelity’s businesses, though her 83-year-old father, Edward C. Johnson III, is CEO. She has a huge job: Assets under administration total $4.3 trillion.


Phebe Novakovic

Novakovic walked into a tough job when became CEO in January. Some recent acquisitions have disappointed, and defense spending is declining. The new CEO has responded by cutting costs. (A bright spot: General Dynamics’ Gulfstream jet business.)


Carol Meyrowitz

Meyrowitz has continued the $26-billion-in-revenue retailer’s hot streak: five consecutive years of customer traffic gains, and 17 consecutive years of EPS growth. In September the company launched a new T.J. Maxx e-commerce site.


Ursula Burns

Burns has successfully transformed the printing company: Over half its $22 billion in revenue comes from services such as customer care and IT outsourcing. But Xerox’s traditional docu-ment business is struggling, causing profits to drop 8% last year.


Safra Catz

Catz is one of Oracle’s MVPs, having overseen a software industry consolidation. But CEO Larry Ellison is now 69, and the question is whether Catz is a CEO-in-waiting or a deputy forever. Regardless, she’s well paid: Her fiscal 2012 total pay was $43.6 million, according to Equilar.


Rosalind Brewer

As head of Wal-Mart’s warehouse club business, Brewer runs one of three operating segments at the retail giant. With $56.4 billion in revenue, it’s so big that it would rank No. 53 on the Fortune 500 if it were a standalone company. The Lockheed board member drove sales up 5%, and operating income up 6% at Sam’s Club and has been building its online business. She also has the ear of CEO Mike Duke: Brewer is his direct report, and the two have one-on-one sessions at least twice a month.


Lynn Good

In July, Good vaulted from CFO to CEO of the largest U.S. electric utility. Her mission: to steady the ship after Duke’s merger with Progress Energy, executive departures, and an investigation into whether Duke misled state regulators about management of the combined company.


Melanie Healey

In a time of major change at P&G, Healey has been a steady influence. Head of the company’s largest and most challenged unit—North America, with $32.8 billion in revenue—she now reports directly to CEO A.G. Lafley. Improvements could put her in the mix to succeed him.


Anne Sweeney

From online players to iPads, Sweeney has helped lead Disney into the digital age. Media Networks brought in $19.4 billion in 2012 revenue, and she launched another tech platform in May: WATCH lets some Disney and ABC subscribers live-stream shows on any device.


Susan Wojcicki

When CEO Larry Page consolidated his inner circle in March, he expanded Wojcicki’s portfolio. A senior vice president, she now oversees not only advertising products that account for the bulk of Google’s revenue, but also the company’s commerce unit. Wojcicki, whose career does not appear to have been affected by her sister Anne’s separation from Google co-founder Sergey Brin, is playing a central role in Google’s critical, difficult transition to mobile advertising.


Sheri S. McCoy

McCoy, who became CEO of Avon in April 2012, is in the early stages of turning around the flailing direct seller. It lost $42.5 million on sales of nearly $11 billion last year, in part because of restructuring charges: The former J&J executive has exited underperforming markets and sold a struggling jewelry unit.


Deb Henretta

In 2012, Henretta came back to Cincinnati from Singapore, where she’d run Asia for five years, and assumed responsibility for P&G’s struggling $20 billion Beauty Care business. Like Healey (No. 17), she has a shot at running P&G if she can execute a turnaround.


Pam Nicholson

Nicholson this year became the first exec not a member of the founding Taylor family to be named CEO of the car-rental behemoth. Previously, as COO, she oversaw acquisitions and Enterprise’s high-profile push into airports, which helped buoy revenue to $16.4 billion last fiscal year.


Denise Morrison

Morrison has been on a shopping spree: Starting last summer she gobbled up Bolthouse Farms (drinks), Plum Organics (baby food), and Kelsen Group (cookies)—all part of a strategy to expand Campbell beyond soup, though she’s trying to revive that business too.


Gisel Ruiz

Ruiz helped drive a 3.9% increase in revenue to $274.5 billion in the Wal-Mart U.S. division in fiscal 2013. She produced higher average sales per customer, a jump in traffic, and store growth. The former HR executive, who made the switch to operations last year, saw operating income grow faster than sales in her business.


Mary Erdoes

The “London Whale” disaster triggered multiple investigations, but J.P. Morgan Chase is posting record earnings. Erdoes’s business, with $2.2 trillion under management, is a major contributor. For the first six months of 2013, her unit posted profits of $987 million, a 27% increase.


Carrie Tolstedt

A 24-year Wells veteran, Tolstedt runs the nation’s largest retail banking franchise, with 6,200 branches in 39 states. She’s lifted deposits by $37 billion, or 6.3%, in the past year. The $100 million in checking and savings accounts per branch are key to the bank’s profitability.


Renée James

James, who became president this year after running the chipmaker’s software and web-hosting groups, has a tough job, getting Intel inside smartphones (see related story). Luckily she learned from one of the best as technical assistant to CEO Andy Grove for four years.


Bridget Van Kralingen

The former infotech consultant now runs IBM’s powerful global business services arm, which brought in 18% of the company’s $104.5 billion in sales in 2012. Under van Kralingen, consultants and researchers are teaming up to bring IBM’s next-gen computing tech to market.


Mary Barra

A heavy schedule of 2013 GM product launches tested Barra—the highest-ranking woman in the auto industry—and her grades were all superlative. She’s brought a new rigor and discipline to GM’s often unruly product development process. Critics praised the 2014 Chevy Impala as the best GM car in decades, and the upcoming seventh-generation Corvette is a top contender for car-of-the-year honors. Her biggest fan: chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, who keeps talking up the likelihood of a woman becoming a Detroit CEO .


Deirdre Connelly

Sales in Connelly’s $11 billion unit were flat in 2012, but she outperformed GSK, which saw revenue decline 4.6%. Recent FDA approvals could help revive sales; GSK has the go-ahead on meds to combat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a leading cause of death in the U.S.


Gail Boudreaux

Boudreaux, chief of the $103 billion benefits business, has prepped UnitedHealth for the arrival of Obamacare by adding more than 9 million members in Medicaid, Medicare, and corporate plans in the past year, including 2.9 million members of the military.


Bonnie Hammer

Hammer received a hefty promotion in February. She now oversees 11 entertainment cable networks, including Bravo and USA, and two TV production studios. Revenue: about $5.5 billion. CEO Steve Burke often praises Hammer’s Midas touch.


Kathleen Murphy

Fidelity’s retail business has boomed during Murphy’s tenure. Last year assets under administration climbed $180 billion, to a record $1.5 trillion. If Murphy’s unit were a standalone, it would be the nation’s largest IRA provider and a leading college-savings-plan administrator.


Debra Reed

Sempra tapped Reed as CEO in 2011, and the board elected her chairman last November. The energy services company is developing a $1 billion natural-gas pipeline in Mexico and entered a joint venture with Mexico’s Pemex to pursue projects totaling $865 million so far.


Gracia Martore

What “traditional media” crisis? Martore is steering Gannett, which owns USA Today, in the right direction. Investors cheered when she decided to buy rival Belo’s TV stations for $2.2 billion; the stock is up 49% this year. Its properties will reach nearly a third of U.S. homes.


Nancy Dubuc

In June, Dubuc took the reins of the hot cable empire A&E Networks from Abbe Raven, now chairman. Previously the company’s president of entertainment and media, she okayed many of the $3.5-billion-in-revenue company’s hit shows, including Duck Dynasty.


Heather Bresch

Mylan’s stock price has jumped more than 70% since Bresch stepped in as CEO at the generic-drug maker in 2012. She continues to break new ground at the company, with $6.8 billion in revenue; a $1.6 billion acquisition of India pharma business Agila Specialties is pending, and Mylan entered the diagnostics market for the first time by winning rights to distribute a test used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.


Kim Bowers

When fuel refiner Valero Energy spun off its retail business in May, CST Brands, with $13 billion in revenue and 1,900 gas stations, instantly earned a place in the Fortune 500. Bowers, a University of Texas law grad, was Valero’s general counsel before heading its retail operation.


Ilene Gordon

Under Gordon, who became CEO in 2009, the 107-year-old ingredients maker has become a highflier: This year Ingredion was one of the oldest companies to land on Fortune’s Fastest-Growing Companies list. Its profit climbed a whopping 81% on average the past three years.


Maggie Wilderotter

Though Frontier Communications continued to shed customers (2012 sales were down 4.4%, and profit down 8.7%), Wilderotter remains a respected corporate voice. She has been on 23 public company boards in the past 28 years, and is currently a director at Xerox and P&G.


Karen Licitra

Despite a bump in J&J’s 2012 revenue to $67.2 billion, sales in Licitra’s global medical solutions group stalled at $8.6 billion for the second year in a row. But J&J has high hopes for a new sedation technology, developed on Licitra’s watch.


Sondra Barbour

In April, Barbour became head of Lockheed’s IT business from CIO, where she helped build out the cybersecurity biz. With $8.8 billion in revenue, IS&GS is the second largest of the defense contractor’s five divisions. It has been hit hardest by government budget cuts.


Amy Schulman

A lawyer who has proved her business mettle, Schulman is both general counsel and head of Pfizer’s $3.2 billion consumer health care division. Come January, she’ll leave the legal department entirely to oversee vaccines, oncology, and consumer health care, a newly created $8.6 billion group.


Patricia Fili-Krushel

Fili-Krushel took charge of the revamped news group last July. She recruited Deborah Turness to head NBC News. They face the daunting task of reviving the Today show, now No. 2 to ABC’s Good Morning America.


Carol Tomé

Tomé is more than a CFO: She runs Home Depot’s real estate and strategic business-development units. An 18-year veteran, Tomé is the only officer to have worked with every one of Home Depot’s four CEOs—and analysts believe Tomé herself has a shot at the top job.


Beth Mooney

In 2011, Mooney, who started her banking career as a secretary in the 1970s, became the first woman CEO of a major U.S. bank, helping turn around the recession-battered company. KeyCorp’s stock is up 35% this year, handily outpacing the 18% increase in the S&P.


Deanna Mulligan

Hurricane Sandy pummeled Guardian’s New York headquarters last year. Yet within weeks of the superstorm, Guardian announced the highest dividend in company history, an $805 million payout to policyholders. Mulligan, an avid equestrian, became CEO in 2011.


Marianne Lake

In the management shakeup following JPMorgan Chase’s $6 billion trading loss last year, Lake came out on top, taking the chief finance job at one of the world’s biggest financial institutions. Previously she had been CFO for the company’s consumer businesses. Now the U.K.-raised accountant works closely with CEO Jamie Dimon and is one of only two women (with Erdoes, No. 25) on the 14-person operating committee at the bank, with $108 billion in revenue.


Linda Mills

A new role last year gave Mills strategic oversight of almost every aspect of the $25-billion-in-revenue defense contractor. Mills’ job is to get top performance out of Northrop’s engineering, quality, and technology operations.


Shonda Rhimes

Her shows are mini-empires—and major moneymakers— for Disney’s ABC. But Rhimes, a prolific creator and executive producer of hit dramas, makes the list for her impact on popular culture. We bet Disney CEO Bob Iger returns her calls (see related story).

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