Nokia

Nokia

Mary T. McDowell, 44, Chief Development Officer since January 2008

Biggest accomplishment in this job: Leading the Corporate Development Office, a brand-new department in Nokia (NOK) that came about as the company began to transform itself from, as McDowell puts it, being primarily a mobile-devices company to being a mobile-solutions company.

Previous experience: McDowell spent 17 years at Compaq and, after it took over Compaq, at Hewlett-Packard, where she climbed to senior vice-president and general manager of the Industry-Standard Server unit in 1998. Previously she had been in marketing. The Chicago native, who has a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, joined Nokia in 2004 as executive vice-president of its Enterprise Solutions Group before becoming chief development officer.

Innovation philosophy: "My own philosophy on innovation is based on three principles: First, get as close to the customer as possible. Everyone in the company needs to know who their customers are and what they want. Otherwise, nothing else matters in business. Second, mix it up. I like to build teams that have a diversity of talent: creative thinkers, strong process-oriented thinkers, challengers, and influencers, for example. And be prepared to learn something and innovate your own leadership style. A third principle is that of pragmatism. The goal of business innovation is to drive growth and that is typically only possible if the innovation leverages an existing strength or capability of the company."