No. 9 Deirdre Connelly (President of US Operations): Eli Lilly
Climbing the ladder from sales rep, to executive director of HR, to President of US Operations, Deirdre Connelly’s career progression at Eli Lilly was a prescription for success. After 26 loyal years, with 4 years at her recent post, Connelly resigned to become President of competitor GlaxoSmithKline’s North American pharmaceuticals business. For Eli Lilly, this move is a bitter pill, as Connelly was a successful and influential executive, and a mentor and role model for diversity. During her tenure she oversaw 6,700 employees who accounted for more than 50 percent of Lilly’s global sales team.8 Rising through the ranks gave Connelly a unique perspective and insight into running operations, even sometimes going undercover to maintain her connection with the front lines of pharma sales. GSK, the world’s second-largest drug maker by sales, acquired a savvy top executive listed in Fortune’s top 50 women in business, whose experience and expertise will be used to erode her alma mater’s market share.