In a quickly evolving business world, motivated business women from around the globe have emerged as powerful and influential industry leaders.
These driven female entrepreneurs have continued to rise despite obstacles that have threatened to impede on their success, consistently driving change and igniting growth in their companies through specialized knowledge, skilled leadership, and fearless risk taking.
Age: 63 years
Salary: $29.8 million
Education: Yale School of Management
Indra Nooyi ranks fourth on the Fortune 500 list of Women CEOs. She serves on the board of directors for Amazon, the largest eCommerce business in the world.
Nooyi made her name as a powerful business woman during her time working as Chief Executive Officer for PepsiCo. During this time, Nooyi restructured the marketing of PepsiCo to shift the brand focus towards healthier products. This shift resulted in the removal of aspartame from PepsiCo drinks and the offering of healthier snack options, a hugely successful movement for the company.
Age: 57 years
Company: General Motors
Salary: $21.96 million
Education: Stanford Graduate School of Business
Mary Barra ranks first on the Fortune 500 list of Women CEOs. She is the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Company, a multinational corporate manufacturer of vehicles and auto parts and provider of financial services. Barra was granted the Chief Executive position in 2014.
During her short time as CEO of General Motors, Barra has reworked the company’s culture to encourage more thorough safety inspections of vehicles. She has also initiated the driverless technology project and aims to beat rival Tesla in developing the first electric car priced under $40,000.
In 2017, Barra became the 12th person elected to the Disney Board of Directors.
Age: 66 years
Company: Kraft Foods
Salary: $21 million
Education: Cornell University
Irena Rosenfeld had a busy career, which began at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency then moved to the General Foods consumer research department and finally landed as Chief Executive Officer and Chairwoman of Kraft Foods in 2006.
Among her many accomplishments as CEO of Kraft Foods, Rosenfeld successfully led the restructuring and turnaround of key business in the United States, Canada, and Moscow. In 2008, she was named sixth on The Wall Street Journal’s list of 50 Women to Watch.
Rosenfeld retired in 2017, five years after Kraft Foods split Rosenfeld’s marketing scope in half in August 2011 with the creation of sister company, Mondelez International, which became Rosenfeld’s new charge up until her retirement.
Age: 62 years
Company: General Dynamics
Salary: $18.99 million
Phebe Novakovic is known for her prominence in the United States national defense industry. From 1977 to 2001 she worked for the United States Department of Defense in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In 2001 she became President and Chief Officer of Operations for General Dynamics, a largescale manufacturer of defense technology. In 2013 she was promoted to Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of General Dynamics. Novakovic is applauded for her $9.7 billion acquisition of IT firm CSRA and the 20% year-over-year revenue growth she has incurred for the company.
Age: 60 years
Salary: $18.7 million
Education: Columbia University
Ursula Burns holds a prominent position in several Fortune 500 companies. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer VEON, a multinational telecommunications services provider and the eleventh largest mobile network operator in the world. Prior to this position, Burns was CEO of Xerox from 2009 to 2016.
Burns is notably the first black woman to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. In addition to her roles as CEO, Burns is a senior advisor at Teneo, an international C-Suite advisory firm, non-executive director of Diageo, a multinational alcoholic beverages company, and a member of the Board of Directors for Uber.
During her time as CEO of Xerox, Burns led the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services. She then led the split of the company into two independent companies. In 2017, Burns left her role in Xerox entirely only to be elected as CEO of VEON a year later, following the sudden departure of VEON’s preceding CEO.
Burns has been featured multiple times on Forbes list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.
Age: 57 years
Salary: $108.28 million
Education: Penn Law
Safra Catz was elected as CEO of Oracle alongside Mark Hurd when company founder Larry Ellison made the decision to step down in 2014. Catz is credited for driving Oracle’s 2005 acquisition of software rival PeopleSoft and also serves as the Fortune 500 company’s Chief Financial Officer.
As of April 2017, Catz is the highest paid female CEO of any United States company.
Age: 64 years
Salary: $8.14 million
Education: Southern Methodist University
Beth Mooney was the first female CEO of a Top 20 US bank. Mooney worked in financial roles for 16 years prior to being elected Chief Executive Officer of KeyCorp. Her roles progressed from lending agent, Chief Financial Officer, President, and Chief Operating Officer prior to her election.
Mooney joined KeyCorp in 2006 as Vice Chair and head of Key Community Bank. She was promoted to CEO in May 2011.
Age: 61 years
Company: Avon/Grameen America
Salary: $8.14 million
Education: Princeton University
Andrea Jung’s first election as CEO occurred in 1999. Jung served as Chief Executive Officer of Avon Products Inc for twelve years. When she announced her resignation in December 2011, the company’s stock fell 45% as a result.
As a passionate nonprofit leader and prominent supporter of women’s issues, Jung led the Avon Foundation for Women to raise nearly $1 billion in support of ending violence against women and breast cancer research, among other female health and empowerment causes. The Avon Foundation for Women was then named the largest women-focused corporate philanthropy in the world.
After stepping down from her CEO role in Avon, Jung became the Chief Executive Officer of Grameen America, a nonprofit microfinance organization founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. Grameen America provides loans, savings programs, financial education, and credit establishment to impoverished women in the United States that wish to start a small business.
Age: 57 years
Company: Fidelity Investments
Salary: $50 million
Education: Harvard Business School
Abigail Johnson became the Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Investments in 2014 after working for the company for 26 years. She began as an analyst and portfolio manager in 1988 after completing her MBA at Harvard Business School. She was promoted to an executive role in 1997, then later named President in 2012.
In 2018, Forbes ranked Johnson as the fifth most powerful woman in the world.
Age: 49 years
Company: Advanced Micro Devices
Salary: $10.89 million
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lisa Su is a business executive, electrical engineer, and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, a company that develops computer processors and related technologies for business and consumer markets. Su began her career in engineering and management positions at Texas Instruments, IBM, and Freescale Semiconductor.
Su was appointed CEO of Advanced Micro Devices in 2014 and was named Executive of the Year by EE Times that same year. She has played an integral role in diversifying the company’s markets into three targeted areas for growth: gaming, datacenter, and immersive platforms. The value of Advanced Micro Devices spiked in 2016 when it reported strong revenue growth from Su’s various initiatives, including the creation of a new line of microprocessors, chips, and accelerated processing units.
In addition to her executive position at Advanced Micro Devices, Su also serves on the board of Analog Devices, Global Semiconductor Alliance, the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association, and is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She was named one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune in 2017.
Age: 57 years
Salary: $4.81 million
Education: University of Kent
Carolyn McCall has been appointed CEO for an array of companies over the years. Her first experience as Chief Executive Officer came through her employment at Guardian Media Group (producer of the Guardian) in 2006, where she had originally been hired on as a research planner in 1986.
When Guardian Media Group sold its regional newspaper businesses in 2010 and 49.9% stake in Trader Media Group, McCall walked away with her cut from the $1.75 billion deal.
McCall was then appointed CEO of easyJet in March 2010 and later named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.
During McCall's tenure at easyJet, the airline's shares nearly quadrupled in value. McCall was responsible for the partial acquisition of Air Berlin and Alitalia.
In June 2014, McCall was awarded a Doctor of Science Honoris Causa by Cranfield University for her outstanding contribution to the aerospace industry and her distinguished achievements in international business.
These motivated business women from around the globe have consistently driven change and ignited growth in their companies through specialized knowledge, skilled leadership, and fearless risk taking. Which woman CEO do you consider the most successful? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.