20 Black Women Of Power & Influence

These African American female corporate executives are shaping the way business is done

ROMAN Vice President and Treasurer, Coca-cola Enterprises
Imagine trying to budget the finances of a large household. Now scatter the family across two continents! Sound daunting? Not for Vicki Roman, vice president and treasurer of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (C.C.E.) in Atlanta, who has to manage the company’s $9 billion multicurrency debt portfolio, ensuring that corporate monies are not raised or spent before they are needed. In addition to capital markets, she’s also responsible for global cash management. Roman oversees the world’s largest bottler’s $1.5 billion pension and 410(k) plan investments.

“I am a perfectionist and expect nothing less than the best. To give anything else is unacceptable,” says Roman who majored in both economics and business at Rhodes College in Memphis.
Roman, 44, had a fairytale ascension up the corporate ladder and was often spotted by top-level people who eventually became mentors and friends. Prior to joining Coca-Cola Co. (C.C.C.) in 1983 as manager of worldwide pension investments, Roman spent five years at Federal Express as the company’s first African American female manager. Under her leadership, C.C.C.’s pension and 401(k) investment assets grew from $150 million in 1983 to $750 million in 1986. She was named assistant treasurer of C.C.E. after it spun off from its parent in 1986. C.C.E. is the world’s largest marketer, producer and distributor of C.C.C. products.

The Memphis native oversaw C.C.E.’s recent acquisitions of bottlers in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain and domestically, New York–ll totaling about $5 billion–plus handed the ensuing international insurance, pension and cash management issues.

Roman readily admits that her success requires more than intelligence and corporate savvy: “It helps if you’re a superwoman!”
–Bevolyn Williams-Harold

PAULA SNEEDSenior Vice President, Marketing Services Kraft Foods Inc.
When Paula A. Sneed joined the General Foods Corp. (which later merged with Kraft Foods) in 1977, the assistant product manager knew she wanted to one day become an officer in the company. “People looked at me as though I was not for real,” says the Simmons College and Harvard B- School graduate, with a lilt of a Boston accent. “I, instead, looked around and saw what I had to do to get there.” And making her mark in product management proved to be the ticket to the executive suite in a company known for Kraft cheese, Maxwell House coffees and Jell-O desserts.

From category manager to executive vice president and general manager of General Foods’ Dinners and Enhancers division, she has paved a stellar career track. Today, Sneed, 54, is Kraft’s senior vice president of marketing services and, with 500 employees, calls the shots on nine of the food manufacturer’s marketing functions including media and advertising services, marketing research, corporate and consumer promotion and ethnic marketing and external relations. She is also a member of the Kraft Operating Committee, where she helps to define company policy.

Innovative thinking has played a key role in Sneed’s rise at the White Plains, New York-based company, which spends $800 million annually on media buying. She has taken creative marketing to the Internet with the Kraft

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