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The revelation of the FT’s 2007 power list continues with new entries from NYSE Euronext and Coca Cola. You can read the ranking criteria here, the rankings from 25 to 21 here and the 2006 list here. The rankings from 15 to 11 will be published on Wednesday October 10.
16. Linda Cook
Rank in 2006: 12
Position: Executive Director, Shell Gas and Power
Cook won a scholarship to study chemical engineering at the University of Kansas, but then she came across petroleum engineering, which had ”exactly the right combination of math, chemistry, geology, engineering and economics”. She was hooked. She has worked for Shell since university. After 18 years in exploration and production in the US, she moved to the Netherlands to be director of strategy and business development.
Since 2004 she has been executive director for Shell Gas & Power, and is responsible for the global natural gas, liquefied natural gas, gas to liquids and power generation activities of the Royal Dutch Shell Group: one of the fastest-growing parts of the business. Her husband gave up his career as a gas trader because Cook’s promotions have taken the family all over the world. Cook and her husband Steve have three children.
Cook is widely seen as a future chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, and is one of the leading candidates to succeed Jeroen van der Veer when he retires in 2009. If she does, she would be the first woman ever to lead one of the big international oil companies.
17. Kate Swann
Rank in 2006: 21
Position: Chief Executive of WH Smith
WH Smith is one of the most familiar names on the high street. But competition from price-slashing supermarkets, online retailers and cheaper bookshops has caused huge problems for the retailer, founded in 1792. Since 2003, it has been Swann’s mission to reverse the chain’s lagging fortunes.
She has a solid retail background: she started her career at Tesco as a marketing executive, before moving on to Homepride Foods, Coca-Cola Schweppes and Dixons. She was managing director of Homebase and Argos before being appointed to WH Smith. The Swann turnaround strategy has been founded on cost control and gross margin growth. Attracting criticism from some analysts but admiration from more, she has been willing to sacrifice sales as she focuses on the bottom line.
One recent example was the decision to sell the latest Harry Potter book at £10.99, significantly above competitors such as Waterstone’s and supermarket chains. By increasing the chain’s presence in high-return airport, railway and service station ventures, she has also found avenues for growth. That may become evident in results due from the company this week.
18. Catherine Kinney
Rank in 2006: New entry
Position: President and Co-Chief Operating Officer, NYSE Euronext
Kinney joined the New York Stock Exchange 33 years ago and rose through the ranks, holding management positions in several divisions. Since 1986, she was responsible for managing trading-floor operations and technology and since June 1995, she was Group Executive Vice President of the New York Stock Exchange. After the NYSE’s merger with Euronext was completed this year - creating the world’s first transatlantic stock and derivatives exchange - Kinney was charged with overseeing the enlarged group’s global listings and US market data businesses.
Now based in Paris, the French speaker, is responsible for winning new listings from Europe and Asia, in particular from China and India. NYSE Euronext hopes to have a competitive advantage in being able to offer listings in both the US and Europe. However, it faces stiff competition at home from the Nasdaq Stock Market, as well as from abroad, including the London Stock Exchange.
The US has suffered recently as many foreign issuers have elected to list elsewhere, scared off by the potentially litigious nature of the US capital markets and what has been seen as burdensome red tape, such as parts of the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. Kinney is hoping the pull of listing in either Europe or the US through the newly merged exchange will give her and the exchange an edge over the competition.
19. Dorothy Thompson
Rank in 2006: 16
Position: Chief Executive, Drax Power
Thompson has been at the helm of Drax, the UK’s largest coal-fired power station, since late 2005. She has a distinguished background in the industry, having joined Powergen in 1993 as an assistant group treasurer, then moved to Intergen, the power generation subsidiary of Shell and Bechtel, where she rose to become head of its European business. After graduating from the London School of Economics in 1983, she worked as a banker.
Soon after Thompson joined as chief executive, the company floated on the London Stock Exchange and joined the FTSE 100. Thompson played a large part in rejecting takeover bids and getting the company floated. However, Thompson has faced flak from environmental protesters. Drax is the UK’s single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions, though it is trying to reduce them through making its turbines more efficient and increasing the burning of biomass, a renewable fuel.
This year, Thompson delivered a promise to give spare cash back to shareholders. Last month, the company said it intended to pay about $17m in dividends and buy back £83m in shares during the next few months, bringing total distribution to shareholders to £600m since the company listed. Drax also said it would focus on reducing emissions, in line with UK government policy. It has set targets to produce 10 per cent of its output from renewable sources of energy by the end of 2009.
20. Dominique Reiniche
Rank in 2006: New entry
Position: European Union Group president, Coca-Cola
As president of the European Union Group arm of Coca-Cola, Reiniche is the head of operations for the company in the member states of the EU and also the countries in the European Free Trade Association.
Reiniche holds this position after 13 years at the company, during which she made her way through various marketing, sales and general management posts in France and across Europe. Before joining the global drinks manufacturer, Reiniche was director of marketing and strategy at Kraft Jacobs-Suchard and prior to that, worked for Procter & Gamble. She recently gave up her post as president of UNESDA (European Non-Alcoholic Beverage Industry) in May; a position she held for two years.
Now she is focusing on utilising her position at Coca-Cola to encourage others in the industry to pursue more sustainable and ethical measures. Last year, the company was among those praised by the EU for voluntarily restricting marketing to children - something food companies are just beginning to do.