Women on Top

Starting out with just a game-changing idea, a bulletproof business plan, or an electrifying design, these women are reinventing their industries and demolishing boys' clubs from the ranks of the military to Silicon Valley. They're all under 40, but those aren't stars in their eyes: They're planning a revolution.

By Sophie Moura

October 20, 2011 9:00 AM
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Peter Hapak
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Top Investor

Raquel Vargas Palmer, 38, partner, KPS Capital Partners

Résumé: As a teen, Palmer passed up a full college scholarship in Texas for Stanford, working 40-hour weeks in campus jobs — on top of classes — to pay her tuition. In 1993, her senior year, she dazzled recruiters with her work ethic, snagging a New York City investment-banking job. Now the sole female partner at private equity firm KPS regularly works on equity investments of $50 to $200 million.

Background Check: "In college, I read a sales and trading book for a political-science course. I couldn't put it down! My classmates made fun of me, but that book piqued my interest in the world economy."

Big Break: "In 1997, I got a stake in KPS' first investment fund, signaling I was a real part of the business. And in 2009, I led a deal to create North America's third-largest brewery. I'm now its chairman."

Splurge Alert: "I love shoes, especially Jimmy Choos and Christian Louboutins. I also have a pair of steel-toed boots! I travel to industrial plants a lot, and they never have safety boots in a women's 6, so I bought some for $100 on zappos.com."

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