opinion: Our weekly guide to h healthcare's most influential people

Name: Sarah Mullally Jo b : Chief nursing officer, and soon to be the NHS's director of - deep breath - public involvement, nursing, mental health, disability and allied health professions.

Style: Possibly the fastest-rising woman in the NHS, scooping the CNO job just 15 years after she finished her nursing degree.Frank Dobson, who appointed her, called her 'an exceptional talent'.She admitted: 'I am very aware that for some people my appointment is a surprise.'Has proved the doubters wrong - she's a big winner in the DoH's internal review, with a hugely expanded portfolio and an acronym-defying job title.Described as 'dynamic and energetic', 'never off-message', 'extremely organised, capable and sharp'.Also 'compassionate and human'.

'Impressive'public speaker who will improvise on the script and 'show off her street cred'as a nurse who 'walks the talk'.

Knows about family-friendly policy as a mother of two, although husband and 'a very good nanny'must help.Plays clarinet and french horn - and studies theology.

Background: Rose through the ranks of nursing in major London acute hospitals, with spells as a clinical teacher and a specialist cancer nurse.Stepped up to become director of nursing and quality at Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare trust in 1994, then deputy and acting chief executive in 1998.Has been a director of the English National Board for Nursing Midwifery and Health Visiting.

Future prospects: Swotting up on mental health and tiptoeing through the patient representation minefield.

But she could some day be the one to crash through the glass ceiling of Richmond House as the NHS's first woman chief executive.