Patricia Woertz, Chairman, President and CEO
Archer Daniels Midland (28th)
Profile: Patricia Woertz was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., on March 17, 1953. The 59-year-old former executive VP at energy giant Chevron (NYSE:CVX) earned her BS in accounting at Penn State. She was appointed CEO of Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) on April 27, 2006.
The Story: When Woertz walked into ADM as CEO in 2006, she already had two strikes against her. She’s the first outsider ever to take the helm of the more-than-100-year-old company. She’s also the company’s first female CEO. Woertz’s predecessor, G. Allen Andreas, didn’t take kindly to the board’s choice of successor. Woertz also faced opposition from senior executives early on but has since won over her detractors.
Woertz began her career as a certified public accountant with what would later become Ernst & Young. In 1977 she joined Gulf Oil, where she held various positions in refining, marketing, strategic planning and finance. When Gulf and Chevron merged in 1987, Woertz took charge of international operations, eventually becoming president of Chevron International.
But when Chevron merged with Texaco in 2001, Woertz’s dreams of becoming a CEO were delayed. She was named executive VP of the combined company’s downstream operations.
A year later, the unit’s earnings hit a reef — falling from $1.2 billion to $43 million as refining margins collapsed. Woertz replaced senior managers, cut costs by $500 million, improved safety and negotiated better oil deals for her refineries. That gave her the credentials for the ADM job.
Since joining ADM, she has expanded its sourcing, transportation and processing networks and delivered strong financial results. Although ADM is facing obstacles that include a surfeit of ethanol and European oilseed-processing challenges, Woertz said in an investors’ call last week that current restructuring efforts will save the company $150 million.