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11 of the most powerful women in business

June 24, 2021

Women in business may face many challenges on their way to the top, but that doesn’t mean they’re not making a major impact.

Below, check out our list of the 11 most powerful women in business today. Despite the fact that their backgrounds and industries vary, they are earning serious recognition, including spots on the top 100 lists at news outlets like Forbes1 and Fortune.2

1. Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors

In addition to being the only woman leading one of the big three automakers in the U.S., she’s also the highest paid. As the CEO of GM since 2014, Barra says she’s staying focused on the company’s core business while embracing news innovations, including electric and self-driving cars. She also received recognition during the pandemic for quickly switching GM’s operations to focus on producing much-needed ventilators.3

“We have the ambition, the talent and the technology to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

2. Lisa Su, President and CEO, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

Since 2014, Lisa Su has served as CEO at AMD, a multinational company developing computer processors. In 2021, Fortune named her the No. 2 business person of the year for leading the company from “near-bankruptcy” to today, where its stock market value is over $100 billion.4

3. Abigail Johnson, CEO, Fidelity Investments

Johnson has been at the company since 1988. After her father stepped down, she took over as CEO in 2014 to run the mammoth mutual fund, which her grandfather started in 1946.5 She has recently been leading the firm to embrace cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ether.6

“I’d like to think that huge new markets and products are going to be built on these open platforms. Blockchain technology isn’t just a more efficient way to settle transactions, it can fundamentally change market structures and perhaps even the architecture of the internet itself.”

4. Jane Fraser, CEO, Citi

As the first woman CEO in the institution’s history, Fraser started her tenure with a commitment to going net zero and continuing Citi’s environmental goals. Starting the job in February 2021, her goals for the third-largest bank is to catch up with its competitors and to start moving to focus more on wealth management.7

5. Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube

Wojcicki was working at Intel when she became Google’s 16th employee in 1999. She advocated for and handled Google’s acquisition of YouTube, which now has more than 2 billion users.8 She then took over as CEO of the video platform in 2014.9

“Everyone said: ‘Why are you joining another search engine? It’s not going to be successful; there are already way too many search engines.’ But I saw right away that Google was offering an ability to find information that was unparalleled.”

6. Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle

While she’s been a member of Oracle’s board of directors since 2001, Catz stepped into the role of CEO in 2014. Because of her own experience moving to the U.S. from Israel at a young age, she understands the value of creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.10 In addition to that work at Oracle, she has closed 130 acquisitions for the company and served on the transition team for then President-Elect Donald Trump.11

7. Julie Sweet, CEO, Accenture

Named 2020’s most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine, Sweet accomplished a great deal during her first year as CEO of Accenture, which provides consulting and processing services and has more than half a million employees across the globe. Sweet took on the role in 2019 after serving as the company’s CEO of North American business,12 and in addition to guiding the Fortune 500 through the pandemic, she is putting additional focus on sustainability and racial equality.13

“Across the globe, one thing is universally true of the people of Accenture: We care deeply about what we do and the impact we have with our clients and communities. It is personal to all of us.”

8. Gail Koziara Boudreaux, President and CEO, Anthem

Boudreaux originally made her name for herself on Dartmouth College’s women’s basketball team, which won four consecutive Ivy League championships. After graduation and a year overseas, Boudreaux started her career at the insurer Aetna.14 Today, Boudreaux boasts 30 years in healthcare, including a previous tenure as the CEO of United Healthcare. As CEO of Anthem, she leads one of the largest health insurers in the U.S., reaching 79 million people in 27 states.15

9. Judith McKenna, president and CEO, Walmart International

For this retail giant, McKenna leads the international efforts of more than half a million employees in 23 countries. Previously acting as executive vice president and COO for Walmart U.S.,16 her recent work has focused on expanding its eCommerce and global strategy.17

“Perception is reality. I think Walmart was a lot better than people thought, here in the U.S., in particular. But I still think there was more that could have been done, and I think watching those pieces come together is incredible. It started with sustainability. And it’s continuing on that journey now.”

10. Ana Patricia Botín, Executive Chairman, Banco Santander

Before becoming executive chairman, Botín joined Banco Santander’s board in 1989 and worked in many different positions in the institution, including CEO of Santander UK and non-executive director of Santander Holdings USA, Inc. and of Santander Bank, N.A. In February 2021, she was named president of the European Banking Federation.18

11. Carol Tomé, CEO, UPS

In 2019, Tomé retired from the CFO position at Home Depot after 24 years at the company. In June 2020, she received the offer to become the CEO of UPS, as its first outside hire and woman in the role. The idea of leading a “value-based” organization as it struggled amidst a pandemic seemed like a fun challenge, so she left retirement to revitalize the 100-year-old company.

“As CEO, I started to go deep. I’ve been able to spend some time out in our facilities. I believe the answers to everything can be found inside the facility, talking to folks and talking to customers.”

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Sources:
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2. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from fortune.com/most-powerful-women
3. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from gm.com/our-company/leadership.html
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5. Retrieved on May 18, 2021 from forbes.com/profile/abigail-johnson/?sh=6eb3a49e1c42
6. Retrieved on June 3, 2021 from wsj.com/articles/fidelity-ceo-bringing-blockchain-to-the-masses-harder-than-it-seemed-1495548000
7. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from cnbc.com/2021/04/20/citigroup-ceo-jane-fraser-says-of-moves-to-shrink-retail-banking-footprint-we-want-to-be-a-winner-.html
8. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from theceomagazine.com/business/management-leadership/female-ceos/
9. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/10/youtube-susan-wojcicki-ceo-where-line-removing-voices-heard
10. Retrieved on June 3, 2021 from halftheskyasia.com/blog/2018/07/top-5-cv-mistakes-test
11. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from forbes.com/profile/safra-catz/?sh=457f109272f1
12. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from accenture.com/us-en/blogs/blogs-careers/how-fortunes-most-powerful-woman-in-business-is-helping-shape-the-world-for-the-better.
13. Retrieved on May 17, 2021 from accenture.com/us-en/about/company-index
14. Retrieved on June 3, 2021 from ncaa.org/student-athletes/former-student-athlete/gail-koziara-boudreaux-basketball-court-boardroom
15. Retrieved on May 18, 2021 from antheminc.com/AboutAnthemInc/Leadership/ExecutiveLeadership/PW_G324762.html
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18. Retrieved on May 18, 2021 from santander.com/en/shareholders-and-investors/corporate-governance/board-of-directors/mrs-anabotin-sanz-de-sautuola-y-o-shea.
19. Retrieved on June 3, 2021 from saportareport.com/carol-tome-on-becoming-ceo-of-ups-this-was-my-calling/columnists/maria_saporta.
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