The 10 MOST POWERFUL WOMEN in the WORLD YEAR 2012
Attentive to activist investors, Irene Rosenfeld announced a surprising corporate breakup in August that will divorce Oreos and Mac ‘N Cheese in 2012. The doctor of marketing and statistics says she’s been considering the split since 2007, which will divide Kraft into a global snacks business with $32 billion estimated revenues and a North American grocery business with $16 billion estimated revenues.
The first woman to run the IMF inherits an institution in crisis, overseeing multibillion-euro bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
More popular than her husband, Michelle Obama’s approval ratings hover near 70% while President Barack Obama’s are less than 40%. The first lady keeps a high profile with her mission to end childhood obesity and her stylish fashion picks. This year the Harvard Law School grad orchestrated the launch of the new nutritional standard info graphic My Plate with the USDA, her Let’s Move! campaign inspired companies like Coca-Cola, Kellogg and General Mills to pledge to reduce the calorie content of their foods by 2012.
India’s most powerful politician has twice ¬refused to serve as prime minister, ¬delegating that job to Manmohan Singh.
2011 Lowlight: Was out of the country seeking medical attention during the nation-shaking anticorruption hunger strikes by Anna Hazare.
Melinda Gates has her name on top of the world’s wealthiest and most generous private foundation, investing in poverty eradication, public health and education. Last year the charity gave away $2.5 billion. She studied computer science at Duke University, received her MBA from its business school and immediately traveled to Seattle to take a job in product development at Microsoft. In 1994, she married Microsoft’s founder and then-CEO, Bill Gates, leaving the firm shortly afterward to focus on the foundation. Over the last eight years, the couple has donated $24 billion to the organization, or roughly two-thirds of its total endowment. This year, the main campaign has been to expand access to immunization vaccines in the developing world.
Fun fact: Gates won’t allow Apple products in the home but has admitted she’s intrigued with the iPhone.
After arriving from rival Google in 2008, Facebook’s second-in-command has helped grow its 70 million user base into over 750 million active “friends” today, representing about 11% of the world’s population. COO Sandberg also helped monetize them. The dorm-room startup is prepping for a reported early-2012 IPO that could value the social media giant as high as $100 billion. The Harvard MBA served as chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton, and managed Google’s online global sales and operations as a vice president.
With nearly $60 billion in annual revenues, PepsiCo is the largest food and beverage business in the U.S., with sales on par with the GDP of Croatia. At its helm for five years, Nooyi oversees a staff of almost 300,000 worldwide and is one of just a handful of top female, minority CEOs. In light of the global obesity crisis, she is expanding its $13 billion nutritional portfolio to $30 billion by 2020, with more fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy and sports products. Last year, she upped the research and development budget to $488 million, mostly in the hopes of discovering a just-as-good, naturally sweet, zero-calorie soda.
Rousseff spent her first year in office cleaning house–dismissing 5 cabinet ministers and dozens of officials charged with corruption.
Impressive marks for her handling of a ¬difficult year, which included the Arab Spring uprisings, WikiLeaks’ release of sensitive American diplomatic cables, Iran’s alleged murder attempt on the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and the death of Osama bin Laden.
2011 Lowlight: Documents in the WikiLeaks dump ¬suggest Clinton ordered U.S. diplomats to gather computer passwords of top UN officials, including Ban Ki-moon.
The world’s most powerful woman heads Europe’s most vibrant economy and is widely viewed as the de facto leader of the EU. A recent poll in France showed that the French have more faith in Germany’s leader (46%) than in their own president, Nicolas Sarkozy (33%). Germany must take bolder measures toward resolving the euro zone debt crisis, despite the political risks to Merkel’s ruling coalition. Half-¬measures will not do.