4. Ellen Kullman
Chairman & CEO
Northwestern Kellogg MBA, 1983
Ranked four on the 2011 Fortune list, Kullman leveraged her Kellogg MBA into a job at General Electric Co. She already had a solid educational foundation, having earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Tufts University. In previous interviews, Kullman has credited her outgoing personality for helping her assert herself in male-dominated worlds.”I never viewed myself as different,” she said in 2004. “I think that helps because you’re not looking for it, you’re saying, ‘Hey, let it go.’ And if I’m comfortable, everybody else is comfortable.I’m not shy, that helps as well.”
After a more than 20-year stint at DuPont, she was named CEO in 2009. Kullman began her career at DuPont in 1988 as a marketing manager. She served as business director for several businesses including White Pigment & Mineral Products where she became vice president and general manager in 1995. She assumed leadership of two high-growth businesses, DuPont Safety Resources in 1998 and Bio-Based Materials in 1999. She was named group vice president – DuPont Safety & Protection in 2002. In 2006, she was named executive vice president with responsibility for three business platforms and several functions including Marketing & Sales. In 2008, she was tapped to lead the company’s focus on growth in emerging international markets.
As CEO, Ellen has championed market-driven science to drive innovation across the company’s businesses. Under her leadership, decision making has moved closer to customers around the world, resulting in greater partnering, collaboration, and solutions attuned to local needs.
9. Meg Whitman
Harvard MBA, 1979
Now ranked ninth on the 2011 Fortune list, Whitman went straight to HBS after graduating from Princeton with a degree in economics. She used her MBA to open the door to an entry level job at consumer packaging giant Procter & Gamble in 1979. Whitman later joined Disney, where she ran the company’s onsumer products division. As a vice president at Bain & Company, she gained industry experience that she later applied as head of the children’s group at Stride Rite and as CEO of FTD , the floral products company.
After two years commuting from Boston to FTD in Detroit, Whitman accepted a position closer to home at Hasbro. “I liked the toy industry,” the mother of two boys told Harvard upon receiving its alumni achievement award in 2008. “My sons got to be testers, and I enjoyed being a general manager of a great brand.”
All of those jobs ultimately prepared her for the position at which she became best known: as CEO of eBay, the auction site. When Meg Whitman joined eBay in 1998, the company was private, just two-years-old, and had thirty employees and $4.7 million in revenue. “It was a raw start-up—lawn chairs in the middle of a big room,” Whitman said. Initially uninterested in the CEO position, upon meeting eBay founder Pierre Omidyar she realized this was no ordinary opportunity. “The company had a 70 percent compound monthly growth rate. Clearly eBay was doing something right.” During her ten years at the helm, eBay grew from a small operation where collectors sold Beanie Babies to an $8 billion internationally recognized brand. In September of 2011, the board turned to her–already a director of Hewlett-Packard–to takeover as CEO.
10. Sheri S. McCoy
Vice Chairman, Executive Committee
Johnson & Johnson
Rutgers University MBA
Ranked tenth on Fortune’s most powerful women in business list, McCoy is yet another woman who has used education to achieve her corporate ambitions. In addition to her MBA from Rutgers University, she has a B.S. degree in in textile chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University. And she has four patents in her name.
As J&J Vice Chairman, Executive Committee, and member of the Office of the Chairman, McCoy has responsibility for the Pharmaceutical and Consumer business segments. She was named to this role in December 2010. Previously, she was worldwide chairman, Pharmaceuticals, a position she assumed in January 2009. Her appointment followed a diverse career in the Corporation’s Consumer and Medical Devices businesses.
Sheri began her Johnson & Johnson career in 1982 as a scientist in the research and development organization supporting the Consumer women’s health business. Advancing through positions of increasing responsibility, she served as head of the consumer R&D organization and later as global president of the Baby and Wound care consumer franchises. In 2005, she became Company Group Chairman for the Ethicon device franchise and a member of the Medical Device & Diagnostics Group Operating Committee, and assumed responsibility for the Group’s businesses in Latin America. Three years later, she was named Chairman of the Surgical Care Group, and became a member of the Johnson & Johnson Executive Committee.