Debra Reed
debbie reed sempra energy
Company: Sempra Energy
Fortune 500 rank: 281

When Reed joined Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), a subsidiary of Sempra, fresh out of engineering school in 1978, there were no female officers at the company. "My goal was to become a director," says Reed, whose first assignment was helping customers with energy efficiency programs. She was a director by 26, and she kept climbing up the company ranks, becoming the company's youngest ever officer at 32. Over the years, she managed areas from human resources to engineering. "I've worked in so many different functional areas that I can see the linkages across the company," she says. "And I've worked with so many people in our company that I have a good appreciation for the talent we have and the best ways to leverage it." The biggest challenge to being a lifer? "Mining new ideas."

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated May 06 2013 11:34 AM ET
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