Career Lesson: There is no traditional pathway to career achievement. Nooyi's career has been eclectic, with positions that range from vice president and director of corporate strategy and planning at Motorola, to product manager at Johnson & Johnson and lead guitar in an all-women rock band in her hometown of Madras, India.
Virginia "Ginni" Rometty
In the 30-plus years Ginni Rometty has been with IBM, she's witnessed the technology juggernaut's introduction of the personal computer, LASIK eye surgery and "Jeopardy!" champion, Watson. Before she was tapped as chairman, president and CEO in 2012, Rometty worked with the company's Global Business Services division and the Sales, Marketing and Strategy team.
Career Lesson: Show grace under pressure. At the time she was named CEO of IBM, Rometty was not invited to join the then all-male, ultra-exclusive Augusta National Golf Club (IBM sponsors the Masters Tournament, played on Augusta's grounds, and the club has historically invited IBM CEOs to join). Augusta National does not always extend an invitation to the company's CEO immediately, however, and in the months since her appointment the club added two female members, philanthropist Darla Moore and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rometty has largely remained mum regarding the controversy and has even attended the Masters since becoming CEO. At press time Augusta National had not extended an invite for Rometty to join.
Company: Mylan Inc.
Heather Bresch got her first job with Mylan when her father, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, ran into the then-CEO and co-founder Milan "Mike" Puskar at a college basketball game and mentioned that his daughter, a recent graduate, was job hunting. Though she might have gotten her foot in the door thanks to paternal intervention, she's ascended to CEO at the generic drug company on her own. Steve Clemons of The Atlantic writes, "spending time with her, it becomes immediately clear that her intellectual dexterity with the details of running a global pharmaceuticals business has nothing to do with family connections." Bresch transitioned from company president to company CEO in 2012 and became in charge of approximately 18,000 employees. Barron's reports Mylan's earnings have risen more than 25 percent in the last year that Bresch has been CEO.
Career Lesson: Humble beginnings and success aren't mutually exclusive. Bresch started at the bottom, literally, when she began working for Mylan in 1992. She was responsible for typing drug labels on bottles in the basement of one of the company's West Virginia plants.