20 Powerful Women Ruling The Business World

By Trista
20 Powerful Women Ruling The Business World

Even though women are crucial in today’s workforce, many powerful positions such as CEOs are occupied by men. Therefore, it’s important to celebrate the businesswomen taking the working business world by storm and breaking down barriers. Many of these females have worked their way from entry-level jobs to running their companies. Some of them also made history by becoming the first woman in their position. 

We chronicled the achievements of women in business. Like these businesses that support social activism in 2020, they’re helping to drive the business world to a more progressive future. Find out the 20 most influential businesswomen in the world with partial data from the Indy100 below.

GM CEO Mary Barra during the 2016 Chevrolet Volt reveal at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Shutterstock.

20. Mary Barra

Barra is the CEO of General Motors. She’s held that position since January 2014, making her the first female CEO of any major automaker. Barra also holds the title of Chairman of the GM Board of Directors, receiving the election in January 2016. Barra has many visions for GM such as zero emissions, and no crashes. The CEO wants future generations to live in a healthier planet. 

Barra started her career with GM in 1980, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1985. From there, she went on to receive her MBA five years later. Under her leadership, company revenues reached over $155 million at its highest point.

Irene Rosenfeld at the World Economic Forum in 2009. Wikimedia.

19. Irene Rosenfeld

Irene Rosenfeld is the Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods, a role she’s held since 2006. The company has annual revenue of over $19 million. Rosenfeld manages the world’s second-largest food company. Before her current position, she was the CEO of Frito-Lay.

Rosenfeld has helped the company make many changes, such as replacing AIG on the Dow Jones Industrial before purchasing the long-established British brand Cadbury in 2009. In 2008, she was ranked number six on the Wall Street Journal’s “50 Women to Watch” list. In 2011, Forbes ranked her as the tenth most powerful among all businesswomen on their “Most Powerful Women” list.

Indra Nooyi has ranked among the world’s most powerful women for years. Wikimedia.

18. Indra Nooyi

Born in India, Indra Nooyi started her career there. She received a position at Johnson & Johnson as the product manager. After moving to Boston Consulting Group as a strategy consultant, she decided to take a position as Vice President and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning at Motorola. 

Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994. This powerful businesswoman worked her way up to Senior Vice President in 2000 and Chief Financial Officer of PepsiCo in 2001. In 2006, she was given the title CEO, making her the company’s fifth in their 44-year history. The position deservedly ranks her as one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world.

Sandberg published her own book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” in 2013. Shutterstock.

17. Sheryl Sandberg 

Today, people know Sandberg at the chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook, a position she held since 2008. In 2012, she was elected to the company’s Board of Directors, making her the first woman to sit in this position. Right before she joined Facebook, Sandberg was the vice president of global online sales and operations at Google. Facebook is first among social media companies in annual revenue. 

While in Google, she became involved in its philanthropic arm Google.org. Since then, she has established a nonprofit called “LeanIn,” which is dedicated “to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.” From 2007, she’s made Fortune Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” several times. She was also on Wall Street Journal’s list of “women to watch” and on the “25 Most Influential People on the Web” by Business Week.

Abigail Johnson. Credit: Fortune Magazine

16. Abigail Johnson

Johnson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Investments, a position she has held since 2014. She is also the chairperson of its international sister company Fidelity International, which has a revenue of nearly $20 billion and profits of $6 billion. Johnson has made the revenue for the company grow by nearly 20%. 

Johnson is also known as one of the world’s wealthiest businesswomen, with over $16 billion in her net worth. In 2016 she was named The Richest Person In America’s 50 Largest Cities by Forbes. Johnson was also ranked as one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world in 2019. She joined Fidelity Investments after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1988.

Mellody Hobson is a crucial part of issuing diversity training for Starbucks, where she serves as a director after it was criticized for racial bias. Shutterstock.

15. Mellody Hobson

Hobson is the President and co-CEO of Ariel Investments, where she has helped quadruple the firm’s assets under management from post-crisis lows to a current total of $13 billion. Formerly, she was the chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation. After graduating from Princeton in 1991, she joined Ariel Investments as an Intern and made her way to become the firm’s senior vice president and director of marketing.

She is a regular on CBS This Morning and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ariel Investment Trust. Hobson spends a lot of her time speaking about social issues such as racism and financial literacy. Hobson joined JPMorgan Chase’s annual letter alongside CEO Jamie Dimon, detailing programs designed to lift up disadvantaged black communities.

Meg Whitman was previously the CEO, Chairman, and President of Hewlett Packard. Shutterstock.

14. Meg Whitman

Whitman, formerly the CEO, Chairman, and President of Hewlett Packard, moved on to become CEO of Quibi. While she was at Hewlett-Packard, she saw the split into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Whitman remained HPE’s chief executive until 2018. She still serves on their Board of Directors. 

Whitman is probably best known for taking eBay from $5.7 million to $8 billion in sales as CEO from 1998 to 2008. Whitman also sits on the Board of Directors for Procter & Gamble and Dropbox. In 2018, Whitman made another move to take a seat on the Board of Directors and invest in LA-based e-sports company Immortals LLC. Today, she has a net worth of $5.3 billion, making her one of the richest businesswomen in the world.

Virginia Rometty is on the boards of overseers and managers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and serves on the Council on Foreign Relations. Shutterstock.

13. Virginia Rometty

Rometty is an American business executive, serving as executive chairman of IBM. Before this point, she was the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. During this time, she optimized the company’s portfolio and high-value segments of the IT market. IBM also acquired 64 companies. 

She started her career with IBM in 1981 and rose the ladder to her current position. Rometty received her Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern University. Later, the same university gave her an honorary degree and now serves on their board of trustees. Rometty is also on the board of directors of JPMorgan Chase & Co and co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Cyber Group.

Carol M. Meyrowitz stepped down as CEO of The TJX Cos. Inc.in January 2016. Bizjournal.com.

12. Carol M. Meyrowitz

Meyrowitz is the Executive Chairman of the Board and the Chairman of the Executive Committee of TJX Companies. The annual compensation of the retail company grew during her time at the company. 

She started in the company in 1983 and moved into the Executive Vice President position in 2001. In 2004, she became the Senior Executive Vice President. Meyrowitz was planning to leave the company in 2005 but was then offered the position of President and became a member of the Board of Directors. She was ranked 24th in Forbes’ list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in 2009 and then listed as the 76th most powerful woman in the world in 2014. Clearly one of the more accomplished businesswomen in the world.

Ellen J. Kullman, President and CEO of DuPont, at the Joseph Priestley Society, January 14, 2010. Wikimedia.

11. Ellen Kullman

Kullman was the former Director of General Motors and recently stepped down as the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in Wilmington. Killman is now the CEO of Carbon, a 3D printing company worth over $2.5 billion. She studied mechanical engineering at Tufts University, receiving her Bachelor’s degree in 1978 and her Master’s degree in management from Northwestern University in 1983. 

In 2016, she joined the Board of Directors of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. as an independent director. Determined, Killman received several awards, including the Sellinger’s Business Leader of the Year and the George Washington Carver Award for innovation in industrial biotechnology. She was the first of the world’s top businesswomen to receive this award.

Marillyn Hewson is one of the most powerful women in the world. Shutterstock.

10. Marillyn Hewson

Currently, Hewson is the Chairman of Lockheed Martin after serving as the President and CEO of the same company. She’s had to find other ways for the company to maintain its wealth since the United States has changed its plans. She is part of the new F-35 deal that’s in the works with the Department of Defense. 

Hewson joined the company in 1983 after four years as an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March 2020, the company announced that Hewson would become the executive chair of the board and be replaced as CEO, which took effect on June 15, 2020. In 2017, she was listed on the Harvard Business Review “The Best-Performing CEOs in the World. Hewson received the Edison Achievement award in 2018 for her leadership and achievements.

Gail Boudreaux is not only an American businesswoman but also an athlete. Health Evolution.

9. Gail Boudreaux

Currently, Boudreaux is the President and CEO of Anthem Inc. Between 1978 to 1982, she was a standout player for the Dartmouth women’s basketball team. Her college statistics were impressive, with 1,933 points and 1,635 rebounds in 89 games. 

Boudreaux has served as an executive for many companies such as Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois (2002), and UnitedHealth Group (2008). From 2008 to 2014, Fortune honored her as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business. She was also named one of the top businesswomen on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women in The World list.

Safra Catz is an American billionaire banker and technology executive. Shutterstock.

8. Safra Catz

Catz has held an executive position at Oracle since April 1999. Currently, she’s the Chief Executive Officer. The powerful businesswoman has also held the position as a board member since 2001. Formerly, she was a banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette from 1997 to 1999. One of the main credits is to drive Oracle’s 2005 efforts to acquire software rival PeopleSoft in a $10.3 billion takeover.

In 2017, she became the highest-paid female CEO of any United States Company, earning $40.9 million after a 23% drop in her total compensation relative to 2016. Fortune named her one of the most powerful businesswomen in 2009. That same year, Forbes ranked her at the 16th on their list of most powerful businesswomen.

Ann-Marie Campbell started working in the Home Depot in 1985 as a cashier. The Home Depot.

7. Ann-Marie Campbell

In 1985, Ann-Marie Campbell put in her application to work at a local Home Depot in South Florida. Campbell received a job as a cashier and worked her way up to the title of executive vice president, US Stores, which has her in charge of about 2,000 stores in the United States. Campbell has been in this role since 2016. 

Under Campbell’s leadership, the store has reached nearly $100 billion in sales. The businesswoman has been working to give the stores a fresh look, which can help everyone with their DIY projects. While the current crisis has given her concerns over the process the stores are working on, especially when it comes to their lumber, she remains optimistic.

Corie Barry is the current CEO of Best Buy Co., Inc. Best Buy.

6. Corie Barry

Barry is seen as one of the most powerful businesswomen globally. With due diligence, she worked up the ladder, starting as an auditor with the Big Four accounting firm Deloitte & Touche. She then left that job to work at Best Buy, where Barry has held a total of 15 positions throughout her career. Barry started as a member of the Geek Squad Services Division before becoming Chief Financial Officer and finally CEO. 

In an interview with CNBC, Barry stated that “My career path is anything but linear. I spent time in finance… spent time actually living and working in the field in retail. I spent time running services [and] started our strategic growth office. I’ve had the chance to run our technology teams.” Sshe received her Bachelor’s Degree in accounting and management from the College of St. Benedict, where she is now on the Board of Trustees.

Brewer was appointed to the Amazon Board of Directors, diversifying a previously all-white board. Marle Claire

5. Roz Brewer

Today, Roz Brewer is the COO and Group President of Starbucks. She is also the former CEO of Walmart’s Sam’s Club. Brewer has doubled down on Starbucks’ popular cold beverages and its best-in-class rewards program. The program now has over 17.2 million members. Furthermore, the company continues to make sales, even during the current crisis, as they have reported some of their highest sales to date. 

Brewer leads the company’s operating businesses across the Americas, specifically Latin America, the United States, and Canada. Dedicated, Brewer received a position on Starbuck’s Board of Directors in March 2017 and continues to hold this seat. In 2012, Brewer became the first woman and first African American to lead a Walmart division.

Revathi Advaithi was the electrical industry leader and former Eaton executive before joining Flex. Businesswire.

4. Revathi Advaithi

Currently, Advaithi is the CEO of Flex, a Singapore-headquartered (but California-based) manufacturing and logistics company. She moved into this role in February 2019, making her one of the rare female CEOs on the Fortune Global 500. Advaithi is also the only Indian CEO on Fortune’s 50 most powerful businesswomen in the United States.

Prior to joining the company, Advaithi was President and COO for Eaton, a power management company with over $20 billion in sales. They have over 102,000 employees and a market capitalization of over $33 billion. Revathi told Fortune, “I always tell people there’s nothing unique about my background or my trajectory that other people can’t do the same way. So I’m hopeful that this inspires and motivates many young women who are in engineering school or STEM to stick with it and make their way through it, to have amazingly successful careers that they’re passionate about.”

Kelly Grier leads more than 72,000 people in 31 countries. Great Place to Work.

3. Kelly Grier

Grier is EY’s US Chairman and Managing Partner and Americas Managing Partner, where she leads more than 72,000 people in 31 countries. Grier became the first of the company’s businesswomen to head EY’s American region in 2018. Since then, the company has grown in revenue, reaching almost $17 billion. In her first year, the company increased its revenue by 9%. 

One of Grier’s ways is bringing in more revenue because she is trying to launch a company-wide initiative to simplify the firm’s structure. She’s aiming to break down ­silos within EY and streamlining the US area into four central regions. Grier worked her way up in the company, working in various positions for over two decades. The CEO is also credited with helping the company remain on the Fortune 100 Best Company for 21 years.

Anna Manning is the President and CEO of Reinsurance Group of America. Fortune.

2. Anna Manning

Manning became the President of the Reinsurance Group of America in 2015 and received the CEO position in 2017. CEO and President, she is also a member of the Board of Directors. Manning spent 19 years with the Toronto office of Towers Perrin’s Tillinghast insurance consulting service. The CEO went from that company to Reinsurance in 2007. Manning served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for RGA’s International Division from 2008 to 2011. 

Manning moved into the Executive Vice President and Head of US Markets in 2011, focusing on Latin American markets. Anna Manning was then given the Senior Executive Vice President of Global Structured Solutions role in 2014. Proudly, she also serves as a member of the American Council of Life Insurers Financial Services Steering Committee. Furthermore, she is on the ACLI’s Reinsurance Executive Roundtable Program Committee.

Penny Pennington is the sixth managing partner in the firm’s 98-year history. Edward Jones.

1. Penny Pennington

Currently, Pennington is the CEO and managing partner of Fortune 500 firm Edward Jones. Pennington received this role in January 2018. Among all US businesswomen, she is the only female in the United States running a major brokerage. She now controls more than $1 trillion in assets. The CEO also manages over 18,000 financial advisers.

During her first year in the CEO and managing partner position, Pennington helped bring the revenue up 12% to $8.5 billion. She also held a leadership role in New Financial Advisor Training, Branch Office Administrator Development, and Branch and Region Development. Pennington obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Virginia in commerce with a concentration in finance. Penny then earned her MBA from Northwestern University.

Sources:

“Mary Barra: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company.” General Motors. Revised May 2020. 

“Penny Pennington, Managing Partner.” Edward Jones. 

“Meg Whitman Profile” Forbes. 

“Executive Biographies: Virginia M. (Ginni) Rometty.” IBM News Room. 

“The 10 most powerful businesswomen in the world right now.” Louis Doré, Indy100. September 2015. 

“Top 10 Female CEOs & Influential Business Women of American Companies.” Alison Storm, Money Crashers. 

“Most Powerful Women.” Fortune. 

“The World’s 20 Most Powerful Women in Business. Forbes. 

“Marillyn Hewson.” Wikipedia. 

“Gail Bourdreaux, President and Chief Executive Officer.” Anthem, Inc. 

“The Home Depot Leadership” The Home Depot. 

“Corie Barry” Best Buy.

“Revathi Advaithi, only Indian-origin CEO on Most Powerful Women in Biz list, is a BITS Pilani alum, advocates STEM education for girls.” Shannon Tellis. The Economic Times. September 2019. 

“EY’s Kelly Grier: Millennials, Talent & Innovation.” Katie Van Geffen, Great Place to Work. August 2019. 

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