And as I mentioned in that piece, two years ago, Fortune featured Brinkley and five other execs in "One Step Away," about rising-star Most Powerful Women on track to be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies someday. So what's happened to the other five?
One woman made it to the top: Ellen Kullman became CEO of DuPont in January.
And the other two women in "One Step Away"? They're off the career ladder, like Brinkley. Morgan Stanley (MS) co-president Zoe Cruz has been on the sidelines since John Mack booted her in late 2007. As at BofA, her dismissal was a case of a CEO taking out a top deputy over serious risk-management problems.
Meanwhile, Susan Arnold's opt out was voluntary. When the Procter & Gamble (PG) President quit her post last March, one day after her 55th birthday, she did it to take back her life. As for returning to a big corporate job, who knows? She's not deciding yet, she told me. Meanwhile, she's staying in the game by serving on the boards of Walt Disney and McDonald's.
Here's the reality: In this stressful environment, more and more top business women are questioning the worth of their careers. Last month came a retirement announcement from one of Wal-Mart's (WMT) most senior women, Linda Dillman, at the top of her game. Dillman, EVP of Benefits and Risk Management at Wal-Mart, never lusted for big titles. I bet she'll return to her roots: information technology.
Another veteran of Fortune's Power 50 list, Sue Hellmann, recently quit her job as president of product develepment at Genentech to become Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco.
More and more women are making big life choices. Because real power is being able to choose. That's a point that Claire Shipman and Katty Kay write about extensively in their new book, Womenomics.
By the way, I hear that Amy Brinkley is doing okay. She certainly isn't proud of failing to keep BofA well-capitalized and sturdy. But she's part of a sweeping reorg there, and more change will come as CEO Ken Lewis fights to keep control. It may be small comfort, but there's less shame in losing your job now than there has been in our lifetimes.
Another Fortune Most Powerful Woman -- a longtime member of our annual Power 50 list -- is leaving the corporate world. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who was Genentech's (DNA) president of product development, is heading to the University of California San Francisco as chancellor.
Desmond-Hellmann's departure from business's upper echelons (She ranked No. 13 on Fortune's 2008 Power 50 list) adds to the trend of top women execs leaving corporations and deciding not MOREPatricia Sellers - May 1, 2009 3:41 PM ET
"If I wanted to make money, I would do something easier. Maybe women are prone to take crazy risks."
-- Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of consumer DNA startup 23andMe. The company's gene-testing service was named "Invention of the Year" in the new issue of Time. 23andMe beat runners-up such as the Tesla Roadster at No. 2, the Chevy Volt (GM) at No. 7, the Speedo (WRC) LZR Racer (No. 26), high-tech running MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Nov 3, 2008 6:38 PM ET
Did you see the news this week that the two major personal DNA analysis companies, 23andMe and Navigenics, got licensed in California? What a brouhaha it's been--regulators issuing cease-and-desist letters, apparently aiming to protect consumers from sham operators in this nascent industry.
I just visited 23andMe's Linda Avey, who founded the company with Anne Wojcicki. Wojcicki happens to be the wife of Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google (GOOG), and Google MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Aug 21, 2008 6:10 PM ET
The Most Powerful Women franchise, just a decade old, is already Fortune's second biggest after the Fortune 500. Amazing, isn't it? This fact attests to the power of women in a year when so many powerful women - including Hillary Clinton and Morgan Stanley's (MS) Zoe Cruz and Lehman Brothers' (LEH) Erin Callan - got so close to the top and then fell. Even so, the power of women in business MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 25, 2008 2:16 PM ET
"I worry when people ask, 'How many stock options am I going to get?' We hire people who want to cure diseases."
--Art Levinson, chairman and CEO of Genentech (DNA), said this during Genentech's investor day in New York City this past March. Yesterday Levinson raised Genentech's earnings forecast, and the stock is up substantially in a down market.Jessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jul 15, 2008 2:57 PM ET
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