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 to jump back in. Among the departed: former Procter & Gamble (PG) president Susan Arnold, former Pepsi-Cola North America (PEP) CEO Dawn Hudson, former Yahoo (YHOO) president Sue Decker, and the trio who once were the most renowned women on Wall Street: Sallie Krawcheck of Citigroup (C), Zoe Cruz of Morgan Stanley (MS), and Erin Callan of Lehman Brothers, whose recent leave from her new employer, Credit Suisse Group, is looking like it may be permanent.
All these onetime stars are on the sidelines except Hudson, who recently joined Parthenon Group, a Boston-based strategic advisory, as vice chairman -- a three-day-a-week commitment to rachet down her stress level, Hudson says.
This decision by Desmond-Hellmann, 51, isn't so surprising given Genentech's fate: in March, Swiss drug giant Roche won a year-long battle to acquire the 44% of the biotech company that it didn't already own for a whopping $46.8 billion. Chief executive Art Levinson, a Desmond-Hellmann fan who promoted her from clinical scientist to chief medical officer to EVP to president, lost the CEO title and remains chairman. Questions abound regarding whether Roche will be able to retain Genentech's entrepreneurial culture. That culture has helped Genentech become not only the best company in biotech but also one of Fortune's Best Companies to Work For.
A onetime practicing oncologist who never imagined she'd climb the corporate ladder, Desmond-Hellmann is returning to her roots. She started her career at UCSF and, she says, "my heart has never left it." She can't talk at length about her move until the California Board of Regents approves her appointment. Stay tuned to Postcards next week to hear more from Desmond-Hellmann.
Meantime, have a great weekend!
Another week of big power shifts. Steve Jobs is the biggest, of course. Hope he recovers and makes it back to Apple (AAPL) in June. As Andy Serwer, Fortune's managing editor and my boss, says, Steve Jobs is the Thomas Edison of our times. He transformed four industries: computers, music, telecom and film. Will any innovator in our lifetimes do better than that?
Jobs also gave the best commencement speech I MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 16, 2009 1:56 PM ET
How many public-company boards should a top exec at a Fortune 500 company join?
That's debatable, particularly in these tumultuous times. But I hardly expected a harsh retort from my colleague Adam Lashinsky after I touched on this topic in Postcards yesterday. I said that Sue Decker, Yahoo's (YHOO) outgoing president, has a "breadth of experience" and an "impressive resume" because she's on the boards of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), Intel (INTC) and MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 14, 2009 2:25 PM ET
Sue Decker is leaving Yahoo (YHOO). The news broke Tuesday afternoon just as Yahoo announced that its board has chosen former Autodesk (ADSK) chief Carol Bartz as the company's new CEO. As Yahoo's president, Decker was the lone Yahoo insider who was a strong candidate in the CEO search. And she wanted the job. But Yahoo's poor performance and her loyalty to outgoing chief Jerry Yang damaged her reputation too MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 13, 2009 6:01 PM ET
Yahoo named Carol Bartz its new chief. With an appointment of Bartz, the former CEO and current executive chairman of Autodesk (ADSK), the Yahoo (YHOO) board is signaling that experience in general management and tech trumps a media and advertising background. Just as important, this is a bet on a boss known for guts and decisiveness - the latter a critical trait that Jerry Yang, the boss she is replacing, MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 13, 2009 4:05 PM ET
With Jerry Yang demoted at Yahoo (YHOO), who might be the struggling Internet giant's next CEO?
Former COO Dan Rosensweig and ex-AOL chief Jon Miller are known to be on the candidate list held by Heidrick & Struggles' uber-recruiters John Thompson and Gerry Roche. Also: Tim Armstrong, who oversees Google's (GOOG) North American and Latin American sales and operations, and Todd Bradley, EVP of Hewlett-Packard's (HWP) $28 billion Personal MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 18, 2008 4:19 PM ET
Did you hear where Joanne Bradford, Yahoo's new SVP of U.S. Revenue and Market Development, met Yahoo (YHOO) president Sue Decker for the first time? Kara Swisher says on her blog, All Things Digital, that it was "at a poker table several years ago while attending a women's executive conference run by Fortune magazine."
Hmm, I didn't know that. And I chair that Fortune confab. It's officially called the Fortune Most MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 12, 2008 3:38 PM ET
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