Even though we’ve come a long way from where we started, women in the workplace continue to experience a different set of standards than our male counterparts, but there are still some powerful business women currently out there running our world!
Not in any particular order, the women on this list have fought their way to the top and proven that they can stand toe-to-toe with the “big boys” and come out ahead as they are some of the most powerful business women in history.
MARILLYN HEWSON, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO OF LOCKHEED MARTIN
Named in 2019 as one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” Marillyn Hewson began her career as an industrial engineer. Over her 35+ years at Lockheed Martin, she worked her way up through the ranks and in 2017 took over the top spot. Lockheed Martin is a multi-billion dollar company, and the largest government contractor, supplying our nation’s military and numerous government agencies. She also serves on the Board of Directors and advisory boards of several other large corporations and non-profits. In 2018 she grabbed the number one spot on a list of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” and took the seventh spot on Forbes’ list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”
ABIGAIL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF FIDELITY INVESTMENTS
In 2014, Abigail Johnson became President and CEO of Fidelity Investments, the company founded by her Grandfather. But her rise to the top wasn’t because of nepotism; her first job with the company was answering the phone. However, after earning a MBA from Harvard and getting some experience doing consulting work, she came back to Fidelity as a stock analyst and then continued to climb the corporate ladder. Fidelity has over 45,000 employees and manages assets upwards of $2 trillion, making her one of the most powerful people in the financial world. Not only is she powerful, but she’s also one of the richest women in the U.S. with an estimated net worth of over $16 billion. Ranked fifth on the Forbes list, she has made it a priority to recruit and hire more women into an industry that remains predominantly male.
MARY BARRA, CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF GENERAL MOTORS
Mary Barra began her career at General Motors inspecting vehicles on the assembly line and in 2014, after 34 years of working her way up through various positions in the company, she became their first female CEO and the first woman to be at the helm of any major automaker. Looking to the future, she’s invested in the development of electric and self-driving cars, and also created a ride-share program called Maven. Her philosophy is that through these efforts, GM can help reduce pollution and traffic congestion, and also reduce traffic accidents. She was ranked fourth on Forbes’ most recent “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list.
INDRA NOOYI, CEO OF PEPSICO
Born and raised in India, Indra Nooyi began her career there and later attended the Yale School of Management where she continued to gain business experience while taking classes. She became employed by PepsiCo in 1994, becoming CEO in 2001 and later President and CEO in 2006. She played a key role in the company’s restructuring and in acquisitions and mergers including Tropicana and Quaker Oats Company, which owned Gatorade. These additions to the PepsiCo brand put them in a position to better compete against Coca-Cola, who owned Minute Maid and Powerade, and also increased profits by almost $4 billion annually. Her strategy was to move the company toward healthier alternatives and develop products that are preferred by, and specifically marketed to, women. Although she stepped down as CEO in late 2018, during her 12 years in charge she grew the company’s sales by 80% which is probably why she was consistently ranked high on the Forbes list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” and Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women.”
SUSAN WOJCIKI, CEO OF YOUTUBE
Involved at the inception of Google, Susan Wojciki became its first Marketing Manager in 1999 and was instrumental in their 2006 acquisition of YouTube, which was just starting up at the time and was purchased for the bargain price of $1.65 billion (it is now worth almost $90 billion). In 2014, she became the CEO of YouTube and during her time in the chair, the company has seen a six percent increase in the number of female employees. Her advertising savvy lead to the development of new applications and monetary incentives for YouTube creators that have resulted in over 2 billion users a month that are viewing more than one billion hours of content each day. Constantly growing and moving forward under her leadership, YouTube has put more stringent policies in place taking away the ability to monetize videos that violate its policies and putting an emphasis on educational content by launching YouTube Learning. Wojciki, while starting her career with Google and in the early stages of her career as CEO of YouTube, gave birth to five children which is probably why she is an advocate for expanded paid family leave. She also encourages girls to seek careers in computer science and other technology-related jobs.
There are many more strong, successful, powerful business women who are showing the world that we can be just as effective as the men who previously held those jobs. Whether in finance, technology, manufacturing, automaking, the military, or any other industry, women are making a difference and leading the way for those who will come after them. Equally impressive as the positions they hold, is that these women continue to empower other women and bring them up by being proactive in equalizing the playing field and tearing down stereotypes. Those that are working moms also realize the importance of paid family leave, childcare in the workplace, flexibility, and the importance of being able to raise a family and have a career. As someone very wise said, “There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.”