JOOST HOLTHUIS Drug Courier
The best-designed drug is useless if it can't go where it's needed, say, in the brain or lungs. CEO Holthuis' tiny OctoPlus, based in the Netherlands, has helped biotechs chemically package 25 drugs to reach bodily ZIP codes and, once there, work efficiently. The seven-year-old private company has been profitable from Day One, and this year revenues jumped 25%, to $5 million. Holthuis, 48, has raised $6 million to speed development of microscopic beads that release drugs gradually into the body. Clinical trials are slated for spring.
BARBARA STYMIEST Stock Swapper
The Toronto Stock Exchange may be dwarfed by the Big Board, but it's certainly faster on its feet. Stymiest, 45, CEO of TSX Group (which owns the exchange), is taking her firm public. A former investment banker, she plans to introduce U.S.-dollar-denominated trading next year to grab back a share of Canadian-stock trades made in the U.S. TSX revenues jumped 26% to U.S. $105 million in the first nine months of this year.
ALEJANDRO SOBERON Party Guy
Soberon organized his first big fiesta, a 3,000-person bash in Mexico City, as a teen. Now 42 and the founder and CEO of Corporacion Interamericana de Entre-tenimiento (CIE), the largest live-entertainment company in Latin America, Soberon will thrill a larger audience: Grupo Televisa has paid $107 million for a 40% stake in a CIE subsidiary and will broadcast the company's concerts and sporting events throughout Mexico.
SAMUEL CHOU Music Man
Under the direction of Chou, 41, Warner Music Taiwan's market share has quadrupled, to 16%, in four years. His biggest coup: signing Yanzi, 24, a Singaporean pop star who last year sold more than a million records. Warner Music Asia Pacific (which, like TIME, is owned by AOL Time Warner) recently added mainland China to Chou's portfolio. Chou remains chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry in Taiwan and leads the battle against digital piracy in the territory.
KAY NAPIER Burger Queen
She sold Macrobid--an antibiotic--but can she sell Big Macs? Napier, 47, earned her marketing stripes over 20 years at Procter & Gamble, most recently as vice president of its North American drug business, where she launched the company's hot osteoporosis drug, Actonel. Now she'll try to shine up the Golden Arches as senior VP of marketing for McDonald's. Napier has plenty of work on her plate: the firm's domestic sales are down 1.5% this year, and its shares are down 40% in the past six months. Plans include closing 175 restaurants in 10 countries and laying off as many as 600 workers.