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Today marks the last day of March and the final day of Women's History Month. But that doesn’t mean we stop celebrating the smartest and toughest female business leaders, entrepreneurs and CEOs making their mark in the world today. We've curated 5 outstanding women who are building brands, calling the shots and paving the way for future generations of influential women in business.
1. Indra Nooyi: CEO/Chairman, PepsiCo, 60
Indra Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and by 2001, she was named CFO and president. In 1998, she helped acquire Tropicana and again in 2001, she dominated by acquiring the Quaker Oats Company and Gatorade along with many other companies. Since 2001, Pepsi has seen revenue rise by 72% and Nooyi’s ability to restructure and lead the company has allowed profits to double. After being named CEO of PepsiCo in 2007, Nooyi’s interest in global strategy and efforts as the CEO have led to PepsiCo surpassing Coca-Cola in market value for the first time in 112 years.
According to Forbes, “PepsiCo’s $155 billion market cap is up 18% in the past 12 months, even as international volatility hit 2015 sales and profits, which dropped 5% and 13%, respectively. Investors seem to have faith that Nooyi’s push toward healthier food and drink offerings will pay off—and they like the $63 billion company’s $3 billion in cost cuts over the past three years too. Some think more acquisitions in the health space may come soon, as Nooyi further diversifies out of the declining soda category.”
Not only is Nooyi a Forbes most powerful woman, she also serves as a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and as a chairperson for the U.S.-India economic council.
2. Sheryl Sandberg: COO, Facebook, 47
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org. In June 2012, she was elected to the board of directors by the existing board members and became the first woman to serve on Facebook's board. Prior to her work at Facebook, Sandberg was vice president of global online sales and operations at Google. Sandberg was with Google until 2008, with her tenure marked by immense professional success and an ever-growing reputation as one of the top executives in the country.
In March 2008, Sandberg’s Google run came to an end, and she joined Facebook as the company’s chief operating officer. According to Forbes, it looks like Sandberg and Facebook have a lot to look forward to,
“Facebook’s impressive growth continues with Sandberg still in the COO slot. The $17.9-billion-in-sales social network’s mobile-ad revenue jumped 80% in the most recent quarter and now makes up 84% of total ad sales. Next up: further monetizing video and Facebook Live, the company’s live-streaming initiative. Then there’s Instagram, expected to bring in $3 billion in ad revenue in 2016 alone.”
3. Mary Barra: CEO/Chairman, GM, 54
Mary Barra has been CEO of GM for only a couple years and has achieved repeated success even being named as Fortune‘s Most Powerful Woman after a year of dramatic improvement at the $152.4 billion in revenues auto giant. Barra is a 36 year veteran of the company who has “driven strong domestic sales, shown a steady performance in Europe and new growth in China's SUV and luxury markets.” Barra has ably steered GM through the ignition switch crisis that hit in 2014, made the tough decision to end operations in Russia, and invested in ride-sharing company Lyft. According to Forbes, Forbes, She also “bought Valley startup Cruise Automation for $581 million. Oh, and she posted record profits in 2015 of $9.7 billion. What she hasn’t done is boost the stock, which remains flat even as markets hit new highs. As an extra vote of confidence, GM’s board handed her the chairman title in January.”
4. Marillyn Hewson: CEO/Chairman/President, Lockheed Martin, 62
Who would have thought that a military defense tech company would be run by a powerful female? Our hats go off to Marillyn Hewson who is solidifying Lockheed Martin’s leadership in military defense technology. According to Lockheed Martin's Lockheed Martin's website, “her $9 billion acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft in November 2015—Lockheed’s largest deal in more than a decade—made it the top manufacturer of military helicopters and boosted its expertise in drones. Hewson is also rejiggering Lockheed’s $46.1 billion business, having split off its IT and technical services division in August. The moves have added almost $10 billion to Lockheed’s market value over the past year alone.”
Since becoming CEO, Chairman, and President of the world's largest defense contractor in 2013, Hewson has continued to produce record profits and has helped its stock price to more than double.
5. Ginni Rometty: CEO/Chairman/President, IBM, 59
In her 35-year career at the company and during five years as CEO, chairman and president, Rometty has led spending programs for data-analysis software and skills, cloud computing and IBM's Watson artificial intelligence technology. Rometty predicts huge earnings in “cognitive computing” (her new buzz phrase), championing the potential of Watson, an intelligence system used to analyze data, for hospitals, universities, and businesses. Ginni Rometty continues to drive efforts to transform IBM into a viable model for the digital age. And according to the IBM Newsroom, although her journey with IBM hasn’t been easy (They recently issued its 17th straight quarter of declining revenue) “In fiscal 2015, IBM’s businesses that are actually growing, accounted for 35% of IBM’s $81.7 billion in revenue—up from just 10% in 2010.”
"I tell my daughters to have their voice in this world, and it became clear I needed to role-model that." Melinda Gates, Co-Founder, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Rometty, Hewson, Barra, Sandberg and Nooyi are just 5 of the countless female leaders who have paved the way for women in business. Whether you agree with their business practices or not, we can all agree that their journey is inspiring. Set goals, follow advice from those who have found success, and appreciate women in business! Check out our amazing female CEO and Co-Founder Crystal Huang in her blog post here!