Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard (HWP)
Fiorina, 46, has swept through HP like a hurricane, boosting sales growth while shaking up its inner workings. But HP badly missed expectations for fourth-quarter earnings. Now, with PC sales slowing, CEO Fiorina has to make good on talk of becoming a Net computing power.
Robert Pittman, America Online (AOL)
All eyes are on Pittman, 47, AOL's day-to-day boss. Now he'll try to integrate Time Warner Inc.'s fragmented and independent divisions into AOL to create cross-company businesses. Only if the co-chief operating officer succeeds can the merged company truly marry Old and New Media.
Stanley O'Neal, Merrill Lynch (MER)
O'Neal, 49, has the difficult job of revving up Merrill's brokerage network. He has cut thousands of support jobs, targeted wealthy clients, and contributed to a big earnings boost. The betting is that he could succeed Chairman David H. Komansky by yearend.
John Lampe, Bridgestone/Firestone
What a way to get a promotion. Lampe, 53, jumped from president to CEO of Bridgestone Corp.'s U.S. unit following blowouts in Firestone tires that were linked to 148 deaths. Lampe's job: Win back the confidence of consumers and Ford Motor Co., his biggest customer.
Richard Li, Pacific Century Cyberworks (PCW)
Li, 34, took over Cable & Wireless HKT last year when Pacific Century's stock was pumped up by dot-com investments. Now those holdings have tanked, along with HKT's profits, and Pacific Century has slowed costly plans for Web-based TV. CEO Li may be in over his head.
Rod Eddington, British Airways (BAB)
CEO Eddington, 50, seems to have the struggling carrier climbing again. But the real test is whether he can revamp BA's unprofitable European routes and replace a collapsed merger with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. He'll need sizable savings to keep this bird aloft.
Robert Johnson, BET Holdings (VIA.B)
He will become a billionaire by selling to Viacom Inc. the largest cable channel aimed at African Americans. Now, Johnson, 54, wants to build a regional airline spun off from a merger of UAL Corp. and US Airways Group Inc. But getting it off the ground will be no easy feat.
Charles Conaway, Kmart (KM)
Conaway, 40, brought new energy to tired Kmart last summer, attacking chronic ills such as poor inventory management and a fuzzy customer focus. The CEO gave himself 24 months for a turnaround. But that may be ambitious, given the depth of the discounter's problems.
Jean-Marie Messier, Vivendi Universal (VVDIY)
Messier's $25 billion acquisition of Seagram Co. transformed Vivendi into the world's No. 2 media company. Now, CEO Messier, 44, must squeeze out synergies between Seagram's film and music businesses and such Vivendi holdings as European pay-TV giant Canal+.
Andrea Jung, Avon Products (AVP)
Jung, 42, has ordered a complete makeover. She wants to push e-tailing and a string of mini-boutiques in J.C. Penney and Sears stores. But the retail partnerships will be tough to pull off. For now, CEO Jung's success is still very much in the hands of the Avon representatives.
David Wetherell, CMGI (CMGI)
In 1999, we crowned Wetherell, 46, the "Internet evangelist." Last year, he was taken to the woodshed as the Internet incubator's once high-flying stock collapsed. Wetherell recently asked the board if he should step down. The board said no. This fallen dot-com guru may need a new mantra.
Pekka Ala-Pietila, Nokia (NOK)
Is there life beyond cell phones for Nokia? Pekka Ala-Pietila, 43, its visionary president, has spent months in Silicon Valley exploring Web applications. That direction pits Nokia against other big tech stars. But if he pulls it off, Ala-Pietila may eventually succeed CEO Jorma Ollila, 50.
Gary Wendt, Conseco (CNC)
The financial-services company paid more than $100 million to hire General Electric Co.'s star alumnus. But CEO Wendt, 58, hasn't delivered a quick turnaround. He slashed jobs and jettisoned five lines of business, but more fixes are needed to pull Conseco out of the red.
Steven Jobs, Apple Computer (AAPL)
Jobs, 45, led a remarkable turnaround from death's door. But lately Apple has stunned Wall Street with weak sales of its sleek G4 cube and of computers to schools. CEO Jobs needs to show that he's got more answers up his sleeve or it could be curtains for this magic act.
Michael Armstrong, AT&T (T)
After buying up cable assets, Armstrong, 62, found out that his huge long-distance phone business was declining faster than expected. That hit overshadowed gains in wireless and other new ventures. Now, Armstrong must manage his way out of the muddle.
Thomas Middelhoff, Bertelsmann
CEO Middelhoff, 47, placed his boldest bet when he teamed up with renegade music service Napster. Middelhoff hopes to turn it into a paid subscription service distributing all sorts of online media. But can he convince other big music labels to play nice with Napster?
James Dimon, Bank One (ONE)
The former Citigroup honcho rode to Bank One's rescue with a long to-do list. He has to trim costs and revive a once-stellar credit-card arm, all while credit is tightening. CEO Dimon, 44, may also have to dodge acquisitive rivals who are tempted by Bank One's depressed stock price.
William Harrison Jr., Chase Manhattan (CMB)
Harrison, 57, has the daunting job of knitting together Chase with white-shoe investment bank J.P. Morgan & Co. He wins high praise from J.P. Morgan execs. That may mean that the CEO can ease culture clashes and pull off a rare convergence of bankers.
George David, United Technologies (UTX)
David, 58, just missed hitting a grand slam when General Electric Co. stole Honeywell International Inc. from him. Now CEO David has to improve on strong performance in elevator, air-conditioner, and jet-engine businesses. Can he still score with singles and doubles?
Douglas Daft, Coca-Cola (KO)
This is the make-or-break year for Daft, 57. He cut staff by 20%, handed authority to middle managers, and is trying to push more noncarbonated drinks. But the board killed his Quaker Oats deal. If the chief executive can't deliver a turnaround soon, he, too, may be history.
Millard "Mickey" Drexler, Gap (GPS)
After a year of poor sales and earnings, CEO Drexler is under increasing pressure to fix the Gap. Its three retail units are stumbling on everything from fashion to expansion. Several top execs have also left. Drexler, 56, will have to scramble to get back on course.