20 Black Women Of Power & Influence

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

already a leading provider of health care services worldwide, made history by successfully offering 1.5 million Netherlands residents a mail-order pharmacy. This was the first step in establishing a full-service PBM.

“We pioneered the PBM by building relationships, trust and credibility,” says Hooper, 46. When Caremark decided in 1992 to bring managed care to cost-concerned foreign markets, Hooper was the natural choice to lead.

“I have always been one to leap in and give my two cents. If I was wrong, I admitted it and went on to plan B. This is what allowed people to trust my judgment,” she says. Previously, as president of Baxter Corp., Canada’s largest health care and laboratory supplies company, Hooper turned the company around in less than three-years, improving return on profits by 50%. The Uniontown, Pennsylvania, native began at Baxter International in 1976 as a senior financial analyst after receiving her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

In five years, she has led Caremark into foreign territories and revenues have zoomed from $11 million to $92 million. In addition, operations have expanded to six countries where services offered include home infusion, HIV clinics and PBMs. Explains Hooper, who now spends 50% of her time on foreign ground: “We’re planting seeds in new territory, inventing as we go.”
–Hal Karp

LINDA BAKER KEENE Vice President, Market DevelopmentAmerican Express Financial Advisors
High stakes have never stopped Linda Keene from taking a business gamble. In 1987, while at the Pillsbury Co., she daringly suggested a reorganization of the microwave food division–a recommendation that could have cost her the job. Instead, profits increased by more than 200% over three years, and she was promoted to vice president of marketing.

When American Express acquired IDS Financial Services, changing the name to American Express Financial Advisors, they sought a more consumer- oriented marketing approach. Enter Keene in 1994, tapped to be vice president of market development. “I was attracted to the challenge. Professionally, the thought of taking my marketing skills into a totally different environment invigorated me,” explains Keene, 45, a Harvard M.B.A. graduate, who, for 10 years, honed her marketing skills at the Gillette Co. in Boston, prior to joining Pillsbury.

The New York native’s first steps at American Express Financial Advisors included launching a national advertising campaign, implementing direct marketing programs and upgrading the consumer financial education seminars. Keene is charged with building the customer base through advertising and direct marketing initiatives for the Minneapolis-based company, which had $2.3 billion in revenues in 1996. In addition, she must establish the company as a force to contend with in the crowded financial services arena.

Taking the road less traveled is not new. Early on in her career, Keene chose her mentors at the top of the ladder: people who, very often, were not African American. “It’s not easy for people to give feedback to someone different, but I had to project an aura that said I was comfortable with that kind of coaching,” recalls Keene. “You’ll never know whet mistakes you’re making if nobody is telling

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