Patricia (Pat) Yarrington
Yarrington has played the long game at Chevron. She joined the company in 1980 after earning her MBA at Northwestern, and spent three decades climbing the ranks to the CFO spot in 2009. One of her core business beliefs, she said in a recent speech, has been persistence. "Take the long view," she said. "Don't get caught up worrying about climbing the career ladder as fast as you can." The fruits of her patience? One of the most important jobs at the country's second-largest oil company, and the fourth highest paid.
In 2011, McFarland landed what seemed from the outside to be an unenviable job. She came on as the third post-bailout CFO at Fannie Mae as the troubled mortgage giant was hemorrhaging cash. Since the bank entered conservatorship, it has cost taxpayers more than $85 billion. Last year, though, Fannie Mae began to turn a profit. In the second quarter of this year, it pulled in $10 billion, its sixth consecutive quarter of not losing money.
Catherine (Cathie) Lesjak
In more than two decades at HP, Lesjak has held a variety of positions at the computing behemoth, including interim CEO, SVP, and treasurer. She started her current job as EVP and CFO in 2007. Known in the company for her level head, she was a lone voice of reason when she <a href="http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/11/20/hp-autonomy/" title="">vigorously counseled against</a> HP's disastrous 2011 acquisition of Autonomy. The board overruled her and subsequently took a $8.8 billion loss on the deal.
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.
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.
Ruth Porat became one of Wall Street's top women when she took Morgan Stanley's CFO spot shortly after the crisis. This year, her influence ticked upward with Morgan Stanley's deal to buy out the rest of Citigroup's stake in their brokerage joint venture. Porat has said that the deal will help boost the firm's deposits from $82 billion to $138 billion by mid-2005. Well respected both on Wall Street and off, Porat was reportedly a top candidate for the No. 2 job at the Treasury Department before she withdrew her name from consideration.
As both CFO and EVP, Wilson heads up financial strategy for the retirement fund giant. It's a very big job: She leads a team of 600 employees overseeing financial management and planning, plus actuarial, accounting, and financial reporting. Wilson, 59, came to TIAA-CREF in 2010 after more than three decades in the industry. Under her watch, assets under management have ticked steadily upward from $426 billion to a whopping $523 billion today.