Despite the global slump of 2009, Marjorie Scardino, 63, continued a record performance, with Pearson's sales up 17% to $8.9 billion (based on current exchange rates) and a 46% jump in net profit $672 million.
Her winning strategy: Reinvent Pearson into an education-centric business. Scardino offloaded the group's 61% stake in Interactive Data Corp for about $2 billion, and stepped up acquisitions in education overseas. In April 2010, the company was awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise for its success in growing international sales.
She also accelerated a shift to digital at the FT Group, offsetting a decline in ad sales. Digital subscriptions were up 27% to 149,000 in the first-half 2010. Her aggressive push saw first-half 2010 operating profits double at all three businesses: Education, the FT Group and Penguin. The Economist, in which Pearson owns a 50% stake, increased weekly circulation by 2.2% to 1.42 million in 2009.
NEXT: 4. Barbara Kux