Women CEOS of the North Shore: Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods

We all know the North Shore, like its neighbor Chicago, is full of exceptional women.

But how many of those women rise to lead companies? And how do those few CEOs manage to rise through the ranks? According to Fortune’s 2011 rankings, there are only 12 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies—a measly 2.4 percent. While many women have broken the glass ceiling in recent years, the progress can seem slow.

So, we sat down with five local CEOs to learn their secrets, tips and ideas. Much of their advice was variations on a theme: Find work that you love. And we also got a glimpse of their daily lives—from how they juggle parenting and work to how they spend their money, and what they do when they just need to get away from it all.

Irene Rosenfeld
Kraft Foods
Chairman and CEO

Years with Kraft: Nearly 30
Education: She holds a Ph.D. in Marketing and Statistics, a Master of Science in Business, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology all from Cornell University.

Irene Rosenfeld recently decided to split Kraft foods into two companies. It’s a daring move by the woman named as the most influential woman in business by Financial Times. Although Irene declined our request for an interview (as she has declined almost all media requests) we were still able to get some personal insight on the Kenilworth neighbor thanks to Kraft Foods website.

Five Facts From Irene

Childhood career ambition:
President of the United States … “really!”

Favorite Kraft Foods product …
“I love so many of our products, but if I had to pick my favorite it would be Kraft macaroni and cheese, although Oreo cookies are high up on the list too.”

Why I am passionate about my job …
“It’s great to go to cocktail parties where everyone has an opinion about what you do. But I really enjoy figuring out why people behave the way they do, and then using those insights to develop new products or build stronger relationships with our consumers.”

Hobbies …
Irene plays the piano and enjoys rollerblading—preferably on paved paths.

Something that few people know …
Growing up, Irene was extremely athletic and competitive. She played four varsity sports in high school and went to Cornell because they had a fabulous women’s athletic program (and the academics weren’t bad either).