Alison Cooper
MPW international alison cooper
MPW global rank: 7
Company: Imperial Tobacco Group

She was only 43, and serving as COO, when the tobacco giant named her successor to Gareth Davis in 2009, the CEO for the last decade. Under her watch, cigarette manufacturer Imperial Tobacco (brands include Davidoff and Gold Leaf) has outperformed the FTSE over the last one year and booked revenues of $24.4 billion, excluding excise taxes, in 2011. The 13-year company veteran -- one of only four women to run one of Britain's top 100 companies -- manages more than 38,000 employees in 160 markets.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated September 21 2012 01:20 PM ET
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