For years, tradition and wives’ tales have dictated that the only women named CEO of a major corporation were those who inherited the title by birth or founded the company, but modern female CEOs are taking the tradition and throwing it away. Three of the female CEOs who topped companies in the Fortune 500 in 2006 earned their way to the top just like the old boys did –education, hard-work and endless self-promotion. The top of the three is Patricia Woertz at Archer Daniels Midland.
Her company was number 56 on the Fortune 500 in 2006 and number 59 on the Fortune 500 in 2007, with a plan to break into international ethanol manufacturing with a sugar-cane ethanol plant in Brazil. She began as an accountant and went to work for Chevron, working long hours and always striving to get ahead. Brenda C. Barnes’ resume looks like something straight out of the old boy’s network. She serves on the board of directors for New York Times Publishing and for Staples. She spent 22 years with PepsiCo. , rising to CEO of PepsiCo North America before leaving for greener pastures.
She has an honorary doctorate degree, an MBA from Loyola University in Chicago and a family. Mary Sammons has served as CEO in her current position longest of the three, taking over financially-troubled Rite Aid in the Spring 2003. In her first eight months, Sammons tripled the company’s stock prices, restored vendor confidence and began to get a handle on the looming debt. She took a chance on a company headed for bankruptcy and turned it around with sound management practices and a strong will. TABLE OF CONTENTS Transmittal Memo 1
Executive Summary 2 Table of Contents 3 Summary 3 Works Cited 8 SUMMARY While there may have been a time when female chief executive officers received their appointment via an inherited position or by beginning their own companies, three of the female top-executives at Fortune 500 companies are proving the old stereotypes are wrong. And, they are defying conventional wisdom that a woman cannot be an executive, a wife and a mother. In short, these women are proving that you can have it all, if you earn it. Patricia A.
Woertz is the CEO at Archer Daniels Midland, a bioproducts company based in Decatur, Illinois. ADM’s slogan, “We feed the world”, is only part of the $36 billion company’s job description. In addition to manufacturing huge numbers of soy-based food products, ADM is a world-leader in the production of ethanol from corn. It was probably that second line of business that led the company to select her over four men vying for the position. “In April she beat four rival candidates, all men, for the CEO job at ADM. She hit the ground running – with a few bumps.
Early in the morning on her first day at ADM headquarters in Decatur, Ill. , Woertz got off the elevator and found herself trapped on a tiny landing with three locked doors and an elevator that wouldn’t reopen. ” (“Money” 2006). She began her career as an accountant and then moved to Gulf Oil which was eventually to become part of Chevron. Woertz left her position at Chevron, where she oversaw a division of 20,000 employees worldwide, because after 4 years in the position, the challenges were gone and so were the opportunities for advancement.
The CEO at Chevron was expected to stay for several more years, leaving Woertz with nowhere to go (“Money”, 2006). She resigned in February, 2006 and was hired at ADM two months later. “Kelvin Westbrook, the ADM board member who led the search, says he and his fellow directors were impressed by Woertz’s leadership skills, her track record at Chevron, and also by “how well she understood our business. ” (Birger, 2006). Key to it all was her understanding of the refining process and a vision to move ADM into the next era of ethanol production.
She recently announced plans to build an ethanol production plant in Brazil using sugar cane to produce the fuel. This CEO has been described as hyperambitious, knowing from early in her career that she wanted to run the company, but she did not follow the old corporate model that said a woman had to give up her own life to be an executive. Woertz acknowledges that sometimes her career and family balance has been more geared toward her career, but said she and her ex-husband had decided early on that one of their careers should flourish and they put that effort into hers.
She returned to work shortly after her oldest child was born and was at a meeting until she went into labor with her twins. Then, she drove herself to the hospital (“Money”, 2006). Like she had determined her career path early on, Woertz also determined her life path, rejecting advice from an early boss to “get yourself fixed –and expense it” so as not to derail her career with her family (Birger, 2006). While it has never been reported that Barnes and Sammons were given equally archaic advice, the reality is that when each of these women were young and in the work force they probably faced similar choices.
That is why some viewed Brenda Barnes appointment in 2005 to CEO of Sara Lee as a triumph for stay-at-home moms. Like Woertz, Bares worked her way up through the ranks, for her it was at PepsiCo instead of Chevron, and she served on the board of directors of numerous multi-million dollar companies before coming to Sara Lee in 1999. In what appears to be a new trend for women CEOs, she was made CEO at a time when the company was in major need of restructuring and in a financial mess. Since taking over she has divested Sara lee of extratenous divisions, like Hanes apparel, to concentrate solely on the food products line.
Selling off entire divisions has meant a significant drop in projected profits, but also major cuts in operating expenses and long-term debt. Barnes inherited a mish-mash of companies when she became CEO last year. So she began selling noncore businesses like Hanes apparel to focus on food. “The divested units made up 40% of Sara Lee’s revenues, which were $19. 3 billion when Barnes took over and are expected to shrink to about $11. 6 billion this year. The stock is still lagging, as Barnes has been forced to lower the company’s long-term targets” (“USA Today” 2005).
Like Woertz, she also managed to be a wife and mother, contrary to the idea that woman must be married to her career to rise above the glass ceiling (“Forbes”, 2005) Sammons is the oldest of the three women and coming up on her fifth year as CEO at Rite Aid Durgstores, another company in financial crisis when it turned to a woman to lead it back to fiscal responsibility. “At the time Sammons joined the company, Rite Aid’s previous management had been forced out due to burgeoning debt and a financial restatement that touched off a federal criminal investigation.
Vendor relations were poor, with many suppliers complaining about excessive chargebacks (former ceo Martin Grass plead out to an eight-year prison term for conspiring to inflate income by $1. 8 billion). ” (“Goliath”, 2004). Like the other two women discussed here, Sammons worked her way up through the ranks, beginning as a management trainee at Fred Meyer stores and eventually moving through the retail division through buyer into senior management where she was when Kroger bought the company. She went on to work at other retail giants including Sears before being brought into the mess that was Rite Aid.
In her first eight months, she made such significant changes that the stock prices had nearly tripled and she was named 2003 Retailer of the Year for her efforts to change the corporation (“Golaith”, 2004). “Not bad for a company that was once the object of one of the country’s most serious financial accounting scandals, and not bad fur a company still pouring out $300 million a year in interest expense,” comments Richard Hastings, chief retail analyst for Bernard Sands. “Mary Sammons clearly led the way to credibility and good relations with employees, investors, fund managers and vendors.
She had to keep everybody on” (“Goliath”, 2004). Like Barnes and Woertz, she did while maintaining a family outside of the office as well. A turbulent economy and uneven stock prices have left the companies in question as far as the stock market is concerned, though each is reaching stability. Rite Aid’s stock is almost double what it was when Sammons took over, down from a high of almost $7 a share to $4 a shate, but still way up for the $2. 17 it was when she took over. (“Morningstar”, 2007).
Sara Lee saw a steady decline in stock prices from before the barnes era until mid-2006, since then the prices have stabilized at about $17 a share and ADM stock is nearly triple the value that it was 2002, but generally steady since Woertz’ take over (“Morningstar”, 2007). Works Cited Birger, John. “Patricia Woertz, the Ousider” Fortune, October 2, 2006, <http://money. cnn. com/2006/09/29/magazines/fortune/mpw. woertz. fortune/index. htm? postversion=2006100208> (Accessed December 12, 2007).
“Female CEO Index” Money, September 29, 2006, <http://money. cnn. com/2006/09/29/magazines/fortune/mpw.femaleCEOs. intro. fortune/index. htm >, (Accessed December 12, 2007). Forbes List, Forbes, November,2007, < http://www. forbes. com/lists/2007/11/biz-07women_Patricia-A-Woertz_XEIG. html >, (Accessed December 12, 2007) “Goliath”, <http://goliath. ecnext. com/coms2/summary_0198-67362_ITM>, (Accessed December 12, 2007). Stock quotes, Morningstar, < http://quote. morningstar. com/Quote/Quote. aspx? ticker=adm’> (Accessed December 12, 2007). “Women CEOs”, USA Today, December 22, 2005 <http://www. usatoday. com/money/companies/management/2005-12-22-women-ceos-usat_x. htm> (Accessed December 12, 2007).