Joe Biden The US vice-president found himself the hero of the hour as he successfully steered through talks with Republican lawmakers to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and deep spending cuts. Biden used his good connections in the Senate, the body in which he served for more than three decades, to secure concessions and pass a last-gasp finance bill. Carmen Chan Ka-man At the age of 32, Chan has become Hong Kong's first female master mariner, allowing her to command the world's biggest container ships and tankers. While Chan will remain a first officer for a few more years before taking a captain's job, she has shown strong progress since joining China Navigation as a cadet. Amancio Ortega While his country suffers austerity and debt, the Spanish founder of retailer Inditex cashed in, adding US$22.2 billion to take his net worth to US$57.5 billion, making him the biggest gainer in the annual Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim remained top of the list, followed by Microsoft's Bill Gates.