When she took over as CFO of the Home Depot Inc. in May 2001, Carol Tome had pretty precise marching orders: Make finance a strategic partner to the company's business units and aggressively upgrade Home Depot's information technology. As treasurer for the six years before, she had already begun the job of integrating her functional area into planning and decision making throughout the company. Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli had handed down the technology mandate, so she expected support in the modernization of the financial infrastructure. And after four years on the job, her efforts in both areas have yielded impressive returns for the company.

While both accomplishments make her a rare breed among her Fortune 500 counterparts, other visionary CFOs have been pursuing similar goals. In fact, it's a third, entirely unintentional achievement that makes Tome and Home Depot unique–at least, for the moment–among the largest companies: In the course of revamping finance, she created the only department in which all the key positions–CFO, treasurer, controller and head of investor relations–are held by women. "I haven't focused on the gender or race," says the 48-year-old Tome. "I just looked for the best person."

As it happened, the best people included Rebecca Flick, the 40-year-old treasurer, who joined Home Depot in 1996; Kelly Barrett, 41, who was hired as controller in 2003; and 49-year-old Diane Dayhoff, vice president of investor relations, who also came on board in 2003. In a world in which there are still just 10 women CFOs at Fortune 100 companies and only 35 in the Fortune 500, such a cosmic alignment is worth noting.

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