50 Most Powerful Black Women In Business

From the executive suite to the BE 100s, these dynamos are changing the direction of American business

PaceSetter Award from the National Association of Investment Cos. — Carolyn M. Brown

TRACEY TRAVIS CFO & Senior VP of Finance Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. New York, NY. Age: 43
Clout: As CFO of the $3.3 billion apparel, accessories, and home furnishings company, Travis enjoys the perfect marriage between finance and fashion. She oversees corporate finance, financial planning and analysis, treasury, and tax and corporate compliance. The company comprises Polo, Lauren, Ralph Lauren, Chaps, and Club Monaco; operates about 275 retail stores in the U.S.; and licenses more than 100 others worldwide. Travis is affiliated with the Finance Executives Institute and the National Association of Corporate Directors.

CAROL H. WILLIAMS President, CEO & Chief Creative Officer Carol H. Williams Advertising Oakland, CA. Age: 58
Clout: The brand campaign for Secret deodorant, “Strong enough for a man but made for a woman,” was one of Williams’ most memorable. Today she creates ads for clients at her agency, Carol H. Williams Advertising (No. 2 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with $350 million in billings). Her firm was named BE’s Advertising Agency of the Year in 1999 and 2004. Most recently, entertainer and CoverGirl spokeswoman Queen Latifah tapped the agency to market a cosmetics line for African American women.

OPRAH WINFREY Chairwoman Harpo Inc. Chicago, IL. Age: 52
Clout: Thrown into mainstream media’s pit in 1986, Winfrey’s appeal and vitality has never waned. Her assets are worth an estimated $1.3 billion. Winfrey is a living legend who spearheads business and humanitarian initiatives. Her company, Harpo Inc., ranks No. 14 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $275 million in revenues. A brand unto herself, Winfrey turns books into best-sellers through her book club, and O, The Oprah Magazine boasts some 13 million readers. As of November, the magazine brought in revenues of $214 million.

LISA W. PICKRUM Executive VP & COO RLJ Cos. L.L.C. Washington, DC. Age: 36
Clout: “Once you can influence decisions in the boardroom, you are a woman of power,” says Pickrum. She has significant experience when it comes to structuring and negotiating private equity and mergers and acquisitions. In her role at RLJ Cos., a diversified holding company with portfolio companies in financial services, hospitality, real estate, gaming, media, and entertainment, she is responsible for all the company’s legal matters, strategic partnerships, and new business developments.
A shrewd negotiator with a business and legal background, Pickrum spearheaded two critical deals. The first was the formation of RLJ Hedge Fund of Funds, an asset management company in partnership with Deutsche Bank’s Deutsche Asset Management unit that could potentially become the largest black-owned asset management company. She was one of the point people when RLJ teamed up with The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm with $35 billion in assets, to l
aunch a fund designed to invest in media, business services, and financial companies. The fund plans to raise $500 million (see blackenterprise.com archives).
Pickrum earned her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and her law degree from Stanford Law School. While at the Federal Communications Commission and Procter

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