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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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).