Avon CEO Andrea Jung Steps Down After 12 Years; Search For Her Successor in Progress

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The longest serving female CEO of a major American corporation will stay on to help her replacement in taking over her position.

The Avon Lady is having some serious problems.

Avon's CEO, Andrea Jung, the longest serving female CEO at a major American corporation, is out of a job.  Avon Products is looking for a suitable replacement for its CEO of 12 years and, although unusual, Jung will stay until  they find her (or him?) and help her replacement fill her shoes.

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Jung, 53, is proud of Avon's role in offering entrepreneurial employment to the 95 percent female reps who sell Avon products. She has been on the boards of Apple and General Electric and was ranked at No. 64 on Forbes' 2011 list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women. She was responsible for bringing Reese Witherspoon onboard as Avon's global ambassador and the honorary chairman of the Avon Foundation, that focuses on women's issues such as breast cancer, domestic violence and emergency relief initiatives.

Of the actress who costarred with Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 star Robert Pattinson in the period drama Water for Elephants, Jung said at the time, "Reese embodies the drive, the commitment and the entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of the Avon Representative."

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This year started off pretty good for Avon -- an almost tripled first-quarter profit, a growing independent sales force (6.5 million reps). But a three-year probe into an alleged bribery of foreign officials led to four Avon executives being fired and increased investor concern.

This has not been a good year for high-powered corporate women, who account for only 3 percent. Yahoo's Carol Bartz was fired over the phone just months ago. At least it wasn't a text message. That  same day Sallie Krawcheck left her post at Bank of America. Kraft, helmedby Irene Rosenfeld, has announced that it will be split into two divisions. But on the upside IBM hired Ginni Rometty, it's first chief in the company's 100-year history. And powerhouse Meg Whitman is back in the spotlight as HP's CEO .

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