Irene Rosenfeld

This New York–born boss showed nerves of steel over the past year. She bought a $370 million controlling stake in a Vietnamese snack maker, allowing Mondelēz access to manufacturing and distributing in that growing market. She elbowed away the unwanted attention of notorious corporate raider Nelson Peltz. And she OK’d a change in the recipe … Read more

Neil Bluhm

Video gaming might be eating away profits at many old-school casinos, but Bluhm’s upscale Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, the most profitable one in Illinois, has avoided such a fate. This real estate magnate is expanding his empire with a new $300 million venture just approved outside of Albany, New York. It makes up for … Read more

Dick Durbin

The GOP took the Senate, but Durbin remained one of his party’s bright spots, handily winning reelection to a fourth term. Look for him to make noise in anticipated fights with Republicans. And who knows–if the Dems take back the Senate next year, the senior statesman might be the favorite for majority leader. 

Jeanne Gang

The MacArthur “genius” is rapidly expanding her sphere of influence beyond Chicago. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City selected her to design a new center, and her plans for a twisted tower in San Francisco take the undulating Aqua look to another level. Her roster of local projects includes an ambitious … Read more

Frederick Waddell

Discreet, well-connected, and reliable as a blizzard in January, Waddell is a rich-people’s banker straight from central casting. Last year, he proved that he’ll do the cost cutting that’s necessary to keep the 125-year-old Northern Trust—where he has spent his entire 40-year career—managing the assets of the world’s wealthy for years to come.

James McNerney Jr.

He hit Boeing’s supposed mandatory retirement age last year, but McNerney, now in his ninth year at the aerospace giant, shows no signs of stepping down. And why should he, when the company’s commercial planes division notched record performance in the fourth quarter? McNerney’s seat on the President’s Export Council is icing on one powerful … Read more

Miles White

This seasoned chieftain has been a blizzard of activity in recent months: selling off a portion of Abbott’s generics business, acquiring Chile’s CFR Pharmaceuticals, and expanding into new technology areas within vascular-device and eye-care fields. While revenues and profits were essentially flat in 2014, as of presstime, the drug maker’s stock was on the rise.