20 Black Women Of Power & Influence

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

market. “I have always been very focused and I like making decisions that can move things forward.”
–Cassandra Hayes

PAULA CHOLMONDELEY Vice President and General Manager,Residential Insulation Owens Corning
I was raised in the Caribbean, where there isn’t a job off limits to you because of your race,” says Paula H. J. Cholmondeley, vice president and general manager of residential insulation at Owens Corning in Toledo, Ohio, the No. 1 maker of glass fiber insulation worldwide. “The prime minister, store owners and teachers–all the role models–were black.”

After taking over as president of the Miraflex Fiber Products Division in 1994, Cholmondeley (pronounced “chumley”) shepherded this softer insulating fiber to market in two years, garnering $20 million in sales. That led the way to her transfer last year to general manager of the $800 million residential insulation business one of the $3.8 billion company’s largest.

Despite Owens Corning having 50% of the residential insulation market, Cholmondeley, 50, plans to add value and improve profitability by implementing a new marketing program entitled “systems thinking.” This means bundling the company’s products such as House Wrap, vinyl siding, windows, foam insulation and roofing into one housing system. This project will be bolstered by the recent $515 million acquisition of the
Dallas-based Fibreboard Corp., a maker of vinyl siding.

The Howard University graduate, who has an M.S. in accounting from Wharton, says her rise through such companies as FAXON, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, International Paper and Westinghouse Elevator was her motivation to run larger and larger businesses with increasing complexity. “I have always been willing to grow and change and knew I needed to get a diversity of experience under my belt. The key to my success was believing that there was nothing I couldn’t learn how to do.”
–Cassandra Hayes

A. LYNN EDMONDS Vice President, Worldwide Operations Support Xerox
As a 10-year-old, Lynn Edmonds often accompanied her grandfather to work in her hometown of Westchester, Pennsylvania. While there, she would sit in the oversized bosses’ chairs and dream about one day managing a large business.

That dream has become a reality. Today, as the newly appointed vice president of worldwide operations support for the Document Centre Business unit of Xerox in Rochester, New York, Edmonds, 46, is responsible for implementing marketing strategies and programs for operations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe.

As the business arena becomes network-centered, Xerox is following suit with digital–fully integrated network copiers capable of printing, faxing and scanning at the touch of a button. In 1995, Xerox introduced Document Centre Systems to meet these needs. The unit, which is projected to generate $1 billion in revenues by the turn of the century, along with Edmond’s decision-making capability, will affect some 6,000 employees worldwide.

“My role now is to continue focusing on our objective of building an infrastructure for our digital projects so that we can meet the customers’ needs,” explains Edmonds, an American University graduate.
Since joining Xerox 20 years ago, Edmonds has held a diversity of management positions. But it was her job as a vice president of education and

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