President, Avon Products
Smith believes in taking detours. In 1996, for example, she was running Kraft Foods' giant Jell-O brand when she opted to transfer to a small U.S. import business related to a new European acquisition. "Everybody thought I was crazy," she says. But Smith wanted experience in sales and global distribution, and she got it. "I've always viewed my career as a journey, not an endgame," she muses. Since joining Avon as a top marketing executive in 2004, Smith, 44, has broadened her duties enormously. Named president in September, she is key to the turnaround in progress.