How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

The MPW Summit: The editors' picks

September 28, 2012: 10:52 AM ET

The women behind Fortune's annual power women powwow offer their
suggestions on what to watch.

By Nina Easton, Stephanie N. Mehta and Patricia Sellers

Nina (in green) and Pattie (in pink) with Arianna Huffington, Mary Fallin, Gloria Steinem, and Chelsea Handler at the 2011 MPW Summit. Photo: Asa Mathat

FORTUNE -- As the co-chairs of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, which takes place Oct. 1-3 in Laguna Niguel, Calif., we are unabashedly biased: We helped develop the program, and we think everything -- every interview, panel and roundtable -- will be thought-provoking, enlightening and entertaining. We encourage everyone to tune into the proceedings via our "Virtual Summit," an online tool that lets anyone view the sessions in real-time or at your convenience, for free, simply by registering here.

The program is amazingly diverse. You'll hear from Fortune 500 CEOs such as DuPont's (DD) Ellen Kullman and Kraft's (KFT) Irene Rosenfeld, who are in the middle of major business transformations. You'll also glean leadership lessons from Laura Richardson, deputy commanding general in the U.S. Army, and Edna Adan, founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Somaliland, whose story is featured in the documentary Half the Sky.

Here are some the sessions we recommend:


Never heard of "financial diplomacy?" You will now as you go behind the scenes of the financial crisis in Europe, America's competition with China, and the workings of the G-20 with Undersecretary of the Treasury Lael Brainard. She's at the center of delicate discussions on how to keep the global economy not only afloat, but moving forward. October 2, 11:50 am PT

At MPW, we famously don't like to let our entertainers get off the hook after a night of song. So don't miss Suzanne Vega's insights into her life and her eclectic brand of folk singing on Tuesday afternoon. October 2, 3:05 pm PT

Our Wednesday morning closer this year is especially exciting: Prominent PIMCO CEO Mohamed A. El-Erian will take us on a tour of what's around the corner for financial markets, what are the realistic prospects are for global growth, and what he means by living with the "New Normal." October 3, 11:10 am PT


I can't wait to see Sam's Club (WMT) CEO Rosalind Brewer and Michelle Gass, EMEA president at Starbucks (SBUX) interviewed by Fortune's Jennifer Reingold. Brewer and Gass are retail all-stars. They'll talk about--among other things--operating stand-alone businesses within a big corporation. (Sam's Club is owned by Wal-Mart; Gass used to run Seattle's Best for Starbucks.) October 2, 2:45 pm PT

Stephanie smiles with PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi at the 2011 MPW Summit. Photo: Asa Mathat

Ginni Rometty is making her first public appearance as IBM's (IBM) newly appointed Chairman at the MPW Summit, and she'll be interviewed by senior writer Jessi Hempel. Rometty,  No. 1 on this year's Fortune MPW list, has a real passion for IBM's technology, and I hope she'll explain to us how a Jeopardy-playing supercomputer can improve health care, education and more. October 2, 9:15 am PT

Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series Girls, will be at the Summit, and I look forward to hearing her thoughts on women, power and Hollywood. October 2, 12:35 pm PT


The world hasn't heard from Carol Bartz since the Yahoo (YHOO) board booted her from the CEO post last year. (Well, she spoke once, to Fortune, the night after her firing.) Having gained perspective since then Bartz -- who is also lead director at Cisco (CSCO) -- will take the Summit stage to share "Lessons from the Boardroom". October 2, 11:40 am PT

I can hardly wait for my Summit conversation with former Sara Lee (HSH) CEO Brenda Barnes and her daughter, Erin Barnes. Barnes had a career-ending stroke in 2010—but she recovered and rediscovered a better life. She shares her story in Fortune's MPW issue and talks with me on stage on Tuesday. October 2, 2:20 pm PT

Striving to build a mega-presence in social media? There is no bigger consumer good brand on Facebook (FB) than Coke (CCE). The woman who oversees Coca-Cola's social media strategy, SVP Wendy Clark, will deliver brand-building tips. October 2, 3:25 pm PT

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