Career ladder: Petrovich, 53, started her career in manufacturing at General Motors after earning an engineering degree at the University of Michigan. After getting an MBA from Harvard University, she worked in finance at Chrysler and later at AlliedSignal Inc. She ran other manufacturers before landing in the private equity industry in 2002.
Power metrics: She works for the global private equity giant Carlyle's industrial group, which owns businesses with sales from $1 billion to $10 billion. Petrovich is now chairwoman of Carlyle's recently reacquired AxleTech International, which has 600 employees globally with operations in Troy; Chicago; Oshkosh, Wis.; Osasco, Brazil; St. Etienne, France; and China and India.
Special skill: She relishes taking battered businesses and repairing them. "I am highly sought and highly regarded by men. They don't hire me to meet quotas; they hire me because I'm the best."
Big win: Spinning off AxleTech International from Meritor in 2002. AxleTech had no profits and $100 million in revenue. Carlyle bought it for $5 million. In five years, Carlyle grew it to $600 million in revenue and $120 million in profits. Carlyle sold the business for $300 million, but recently reacquired it.
Board connections: Executive chairwoman of AxleTech International, which is owned by The Carlyle Group, and member of the WabCo audit committee and chairman of the Woodward compensation committee.
Surprising fact: Has played in three straight U.S. National Amateur (Golf) Championships.
Quote: "I speak a lot to women's groups. I hear women who are competing with men ask, 'How can I be the best woman in the industry?' I say, 'You need to think of being the best — period.' Women should shoot to be the best, regardless of race or sex."
Guilty pleasure: Tailgating at University of Michigan football games.
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