October 26, 2010

Two Alumnae Rank High on Forbes Most Powerful List

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Two Cornell alumnae were recently named to Forbes Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

Irene Rosenfeld ’75 M.S ’77 PhD ’80, the CEO of Kraft Foods Inc., was named the second most powerful woman in the world. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 ranked 31st.

Rosenfeld has been the head of Kraft, the nation’s largest food corporation, since 2006, and has been credited with carrying the company out of a serious economic rut. She holds three Cornell degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master of Science in Business from the Johnson School, and a Ph.D in Marketing and Statistics. She is currently on the board of trustees.

Rosenfeld was ranked sixth on the past two year’s Forbes’ list. Her rise in the rankings comes after the successful acquisition of Cadbury, the British confectionery company, by Kraft earlier this year. According to Forbes, Kraft minority owner Warren Buffet disagreed with the decision to acquire Cadbury, and — when Rosenfeld went ahead with the deal — he sold part of his Kraft stock in protest. After the deal, Kraft’s second-quarter revenue rose 25.3 percent, validating Rosenfeld’s business gambit and propelling her into the upper echelons of Forbes’ list.

“[Rosenfeld is] very smart. She works very hard. She is a very accomplished woman,” said Dean Joe Thomas, who was in charge of the Johnson School’s graduate program when Rosenfeld attended Cornell. “She did well in her Ph.D studies here and has obviously done well since.”

“Clearly someone that runs a large organization that provides both tens of thousands of jobs and products for millions of people around the world has a large impact,” Thomas continued.

On her page on Kraft’s website, Rosenfeld said she “went to Cornell because they had a fabulous women’s athletic program (and the academics weren’t bad either).”

Rosenfeld was recruited to play for the women’s basketball team but broke her leg as a freshman, rendering her unable to play during her remaining years at Cornell, according to John Webster, director of Development for Athletics.

Justice Ginsburg graduated from Cornell with a degree in government, and spent two years at Harvard Law School before graduating from Columbia Law School in 1959. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Clinton, becoming the second woman Supreme Court justice.

Ginsburg trails her fellow Supreme Court justices on the Forbes list. Sonia Sotomayor ranked number 19 and Elena Kagan ranked number 25.

Rosenfeld is behind only first lady Michelle Obama on Forbes’ list. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton round out the top five.

Original Author: Joseph Niczky