As chief executive of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005, Carly Fiorina was the most powerful woman in corporate America. She also became one of the most celebrated and criticized when she was fired from that job in February 2005 in a battle with Hewlett's board--and with tech venture capitalist Tom Perkins in particular--after a controversial merger with Compaq Computer. (She recounted that corporate melodrama in her bestselling memoir Tough Choices.)
Now, at a mere 53, Fiorina is polishing her distinguished résumé with a heavy dose of political activism. She is a top presidential campaign surrogate for presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and chairman of Victory '08, the Republican National Committee's fundraising and get-out-the-vote arm.