Influential world leader

Deirdre Connelly entered Lycoming College with a limited grasp of the English language. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she credits attending a small college and having access to her professors as keys to her early success. Connelly, who earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1983, says she worked hard academically and also became involved in campus activities, which helped form her leadership skills.

Little did she know she would use those talents to become an international newsmaker. Forbes ranks her 73rd on its list of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women." Connelly serves as president of North American pharmaceuticals for GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.

Prior to joining GSK in February 2009, Connelly spent 26 years at Eli Lilly, where she worked her way up from a sales representative to the president of U.S. operations.

In assembling the list, Forbes says it looked for women who run countries, big companies or influential nonprofits. For the fourth consecutive year, No. 1 on the list is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This year's list includes several notable newcomers, including first lady Michelle Obama, who debuts at No. 40, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at No. 54.

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