Chief Risk Officer, Bank of America
In 2000, when Brinkley, 51, premiered on our list, she was head of consumer products. By 2001 she was chairman of credit policy, and in 2002 she ascended to chief risk officer. No wonder she believes that one must "always be open to a broad range of possibilities" when creating a career. Leaping from operations to risk management, she notes, prepared her for bigger things. Developing a thick skin is essential. "Horizontal moves were some of the best moves I've made," says Brinkley, even though people wondered, "Why is she doing that?"