Career ladder: Brown, 47, has a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Illinois, an MBA from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the executive education program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. She joined Ernst & Young in 1990, working in the audit and M&A practices for three years and in Germany for five years. Brown left to become financial planning and analysis director for Whirlpool Corp.'s European operations in 1998 and global product development director for the Benton Harbor-based consumer products maker in 2001. Brown joined Perrigo in 2004 as corporate controller, was named executive vice president and CFO in 2006 and became executive vice president of business operations and CFO in April. She also is member of St. Louis-based Belden Inc.'s board of directors.
Power metrics: Perrigo, based in Allegan but incorporated in Ireland, is a global health care supplier with more than $4 billion in revenue in 2015 and 10,220 employees. Founded in 1887, it is one of the world's largest manufacturers of generic and private-label pharmaceuticals, supplements and infant formula. Perrigo fended off a $26 billion hostile takeover attempt last year by Mylan NV.
Special skill: "One of the things I've always been able to do is to quickly handle a great degree of complexity and prioritize."
Biggest setback: Brown doesn't view anything in her career as a setback, even though she isn't thrilled with things like poor quarterly earnings reports. "I've always tried to look forward and say, 'What did I learn this week?' "
Why she got into the pharmaceutical field: Brown prefers companies that make physical products. She also pointed to her "adaptable financial skills" and the industry's long-term growth: "People always need health care."
Best mentor: Drawing her philosophy from sources including Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Brown says, "Be curious, don't be afraid. Nothing can stop you from what you want to do. You're your own advocate."
Jennette SmithHere's how we produced this special section.
Jennette SmithWe view all of our honorees over the years as part of a "legacy list," some of whom should be considered as prospects for corporate and nonprofit board service.
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Sherri WelchThe new study by Grand Valley State University of Fortune 500 boards shows a correlation between board diversity and healthier profits, and Michigan companies have ample opportunity to improve board diversity, the study's co-author says.
Staff Blog | Jennette SmithI've been living and breathing this project for months and got by with a little help from my friends in the newsroom and at companies across the state.
Staff Blog | Mary KramerThat's why Crain's Detroit Business has joined with the Michigan Women's Commission and Deloitte, among others, to create a path to help more companies find talent for their boards.
Crain's Detroit BusinessIn an effort to boost women's representation on for-profit corporate boards, Crain's Detroit Business on Tuesday night launched the Michigan Women's Directory. The launch coincided with the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan recognition event that was attended by about 700 people.