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50 Women to Watch!

Discussion in 'Working Women' started by indira, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. indira

    indira Junior IL'ite

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    Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an report titled "50 women to watch". Some times I feel that we aim too low and we get content very quickly. I think that these women's achievements will be motivating for the ladies here to aim for more. These women show us what is possible!

    I intend to post information about one women a day so that we all can learn and get inspired by them. Lets start...

    Indira
     
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  2. indira

    indira Junior IL'ite

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    Meg Whitman - President and Chief Executive, EBay

    1. Margaret C. Whitman
    President and Chief Executive, EBay

    There's a reason Walt Disney Co. approached Margaret C. Whitman earlier this year when it sought a new leader.

    The president and chief executive of eBay Inc. has spent seven years building the Web auction company into a world-wide e-commerce marketplace and the gold standard to which other Internet companies are compared. She also has developed a reputation as a skilled business executive who has steered her company through Web site outages and global-acquisition sprees, all while remaining a genuinely nice, down-to-earth person.

    Her installation as Disney's top executive would have helped stabilize the entertainment and media titan at a time it was besieged with criticism over Chief Executive Michael Eisner's management and its lackluster stock performance.

    Ms. Whitman withdrew her name from consideration in mid-March for the top job at Disney, clearing the way for then-Disney President Robert Iger to ascend to CEO. But her position at the top of many companies' and recruiters' CEO list underscores her success in leading one of the few Internet companies to thrive during the dot-com bust. Her flirtation with the Magic Kingdom fuels more speculation that the 49-year-old might not be long for the eBay community.

    Ms. Whitman, who goes by Meg, has tried to dispel that thinking. The Disney job represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the Princeton economics major and Harvard Business School graduate says she felt compelled to entertain. Plus, she had a personal connection: She spent three years overseeing marketing in Disney's consumer-products unit. While she doesn't believe a chief executive should remain in the post longer than a decade, Ms. Whitman decided she wasn't ready to leave eBay just yet.

    That's good news for the San Jose, Calif., company, which faces numerous challenges of its own. The company's torrid growth rate has started to slow as its core auction business matures. And competitors such as Web-search company Google Inc. are encroaching on eBay's turf by developing a rival electronic-payment service and possibly a classified-listings product. In August, Yahoo Inc. teamed up with eBay's closely held Chinese rival Alibaba.com, in part, to test eBay's leadership in the fledgling online auction market in China.

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    EBay is forging ahead to transform itself. Over the past year and a half, the e-commerce company has snapped up international classified-ad listings companies and a rental-property classified-ad Web site. It acquired comparison-shopping Web site Shopping.com in August for $634 million, and is investing $100 million in China this year to enhance its position. Ms. Whitman plans to visit China four times this year as eBay continues to develop its products and services there.

    The company also made its largest-ever acquisition this month, paying $2.5 billion in stock and cash for Skype Technologies SA, which lets users make phone calls over the Internet.

    The Skype deal alarmed some investors and analysts who questioned the high price and the company's fit with eBay's core auctions business. Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney called the transaction a "major, surprising gamble on eBay's part."

    Always one to let her actions speak louder than her words, Ms. Whitman shrugged off the skepticism over the Skype deal. "In the end we'll be judged on the results, whether this vision turned out to be the right one," she says.

    And Ms. Whitman's career path shows she doesn't shy away from change. After working at Procter & Gamble Co. and consultancy Bain & Co., the mother of two boys worked at Stride Rite Corp., Florists Transworld Delivery and Hasbro Inc.'s preschool division.

    She has always tried hard to balance her work responsibilities and family life. This summer, she and her family spent a two-week vacation camping outdoors in the Grand Canyon. An avid outdoorswoman, Ms. Whitman enjoys fly-fishing, skiing and hiking. She owns a ranch in Colorado and rides horses throughout the year. She also spends time exercising every morning, especially on business trips.
     
  3. indira

    indira Junior IL'ite

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    Brenda Barnes - Chairman and Chief Executive, Sara Lee

    2. Brenda Barnes
    Chairman and Chief Executive, Sara Lee

    Now that she has climbed to the top post at Sara Lee Corp., Brenda Barnes has an even more difficult task before her: living up to her reputation.

    Ms. Barnes, 51 years old, became chief executive of the struggling consumer-products maker in February, after years of being seen as a rising star headed for the corner office. She immediately launched an aggressive plan to transform the sprawling Chicago company into a more narrowly focused branded food maker and is shedding businesses that account for 40% of the company's revenue.

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    Whether she succeeds will be particularly important given the high expectations already set for Ms. Barnes. A mother of three, she became a symbol of how women struggle to balance working and raising children when she quit a high-profile job as head of PepsiCo Inc.'s PepsiCola North America unit seven years ago to spend more time with her family.

    Ms. Barnes's overhaul plan is being closely watched in the food industry, where companies are struggling to find profitable growth after a wave of consolidation several years ago yielded mixed results. She wants to focus on only the company's most promising businesses, including bread, meat, high-end coffee makers and food service in North America, and household products overseas -- a reversal from her predecessor, C. Steven McMillan, who sought growth by keeping the company spread from cheesecake to underwear to shoe polish.

    Ms. Barnes plans to pull the company out of the apparel business, where it makes the Hanes and Champion brands, and sell some of its slow food lines like traditional coffee, European meats and its directly sold household cosmetics business. She's focused on freshening Sara Lee's executive ranks by hiring former managers of PepsiCo and H.J. Heinz Co. and is moving the company's headquarters out of downtown Chicago to suburban Downers Grove.

    So far, Wall Street seems skeptical of her plan. Analysts question whether Ms. Barnes has set growth targets that are too high for the streamlined business and whether building stronger brands for items like bread and meat will be enough to command premium prices.

    Ms. Barnes, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has argued in the past that sharper innovation, backed by more marketing and smarter pricing, will help the company meet its objectives. After a day of pitches to sell analysts on her plan in August, Ms. Barnes concluded by spontaneously grabbing a bottle of Dasani water off the table and arguing that, like water, indistinct foods like lunchmeat and bread can be propelled by powerful brands, too. "While this is a rather large ship to turn, I am confident in our ability," she told the audience.
     

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