12. Cindy Bates, Vice President of U.S. Partner Strategy, Marketing & Programs, Microsoft
Who has a better handle on what small-business solution providers need to be successful than Microsoft's Cindy Bates? That's a big deal given the state of the enterprise IT economy. To put it bluntly, a good deal of Microsoft's success depends on getting the formula right for small business. And Bates gets it. She's all about making sure partners have the tools and go-to-market muscle they need to be successful. Besides Bates' small-business savvy, she has the business smarts necessary to lead partners through what is the biggest IT downturn ever, drawing on the four years she spent in Microsoft's mergers and acquisitions group. She's a top talent at a time when Microsoft needs it.