Why she matters: She may be selling sugar water, but she's one heck of a role model. When PepsiCo tapped Nooyi to become chief executive of the $35 billion company, the snack and beverage giant became the biggest U.S. company run by a woman -- and a foreign-born one at that.
Nooyi, a 13-year Pepsi veteran and its former CFO, knows all about the bottom line. She helped forge the $14 billion acquisition of Quaker Oats and its Gatorade unit in 2001, led the $2.2 billion IPO of the Pepsi-Cola bottling group, and positioned Pepsi for rapid growth in the really big markets: China, the Middle East, and her native India. Do you think John Sculley could have done that?