March 12.2018, 1.59pm

International Women’s Day: 10 incredible women in business who have made waves across the globe

Today is International Women’s Day, and prime time to highlight and praise some of the powerful and inspiring women who have excelled in the world of HR, business and commerce across the globe!

We are constantly being told about the benefits of diversity and gender inclusion in the workplace. Instead of talking about it, we thought we’d take a look at some of the female business leaders who have had a major impact on their chosen industries, and let their phenomenal achievements do the talking. Prepare to be in inspired!

1. Sheryl Sandberg

Who: Facebook COO, best-selling author and founder of women’s advocacy foundation, Lean In.

Why: Sandberg has carved out a hugely-successful career in the male-dominated tech industry and become one of the most influential figures in Silicon Valley. She blazed a trail in Google before moving to Facebook and helping to make it the social media behemoth it is today. She also finds time for advocacy work and is a powerful voice for gender equality and inclusivity.



Source: Goalcast

2. Mary Barra

Who: Chairperson and CEO of General Motors Company.

Why: Barra joined GM in 1980 and rose through the ranks to become the first female CEO of a major global automobile manufacturer. In 2017, she was number one on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list for the third year running. Under her stewardship, GM has delved into new automotive technologies like electric motors and driverless cars.


Source: The Innevation Centre, Powered by Switch

3. Susan Wojcicki

Who: CEO of YouTube

Why: Another woman who is leading the way in the tech industry, Wojcicki was Google’s 16th employee back in 1999. She pioneered new ways to generate revenue for the search engine before pushing for the acquisition of YouTube in 2006. She was working as Senior Vice President at Google before being appointed CEO of YouTube in 2014, seeing her take over an operation that now boasts over 1.5 billion monthly users.


Source: AzQuotes

4. Ginni Rometty

Who: Chairperson, President and CEO of IBM in 2012.

Why: Rometty started in IBM in 1981 and took on a number of leadership positions before being named the company’s first female President and CEO in 2011. Once in charge, she prioritised IBM’s analytics and cloud products despite industry criticism of the strategy. Her perseverance was rewarded when the company recently reported significant revenue growth in its fourth quarter of 2017, bringing an end to 23 consecutive quarters of declining revenue.

Source: AzQuotes

5. Ruth Porat

Who: Senior VP and CFO of Google and Alphabet, and Executive VP and CFO of Morgan Stanley

Why: The woman that employees nickname ‘Ruth Vader’ certainly knows how to control an empire. A former investment banker, Porat cut spending on ideas that weren’t performing She also reorganised the company structure to cater for the advertising side of business and their ‘other bets’ projects, which includes more ambitious projects like artificial intelligence research.


Source: The Financial Express


6. Indra Nooyi

Who: Chairperson and CEO of Pepsi

Why: Nooyi’s leading position in one of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses is a testament to her achievements. Since taking over the company, she has played a leading role in the diversification of its portfolio. Critics questioned her decision to move the business into healthier products but Pepsico has beaten quarterly expectations since 2016 and her decision has been vindicated.



7. Marillyn Hewson

Who: Chairperson, CEO and President of Lockheed Martin

Why: Hewson has been a part of Lockheed Martin for over 30 years, working her way to the top in a male-dominated industry. That hasn’t stopped her from leading the contractor to impressive stock price increases in 2017. With the company set to benefit from the US Government’s increased defence budget spend and other international deals, there’s no doubt that Hewson is set to oversee continued success at the company.



8. Luhang Yang

Who: CSO and Co-Founder of Egenesis

Why: Yang has been making waves for her company’s work in removing the obstacles to xenotransplantation, or cross-species organ transplantation. It may sound like something from a science fiction movie but the company has already removed many existing barriers using gene editing, paving the way for more successful life-saving organ transplants in the future. In March 2017, her start up had raised 38 million dollars and successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to knock out a key virus. Her achievements were recognised with a Young Global Leader award from the World Economic Forum in 2017.



9. Abigail Johnson

Who: President and CEO of Fidelity Investments, and Chairwoman of Fidelity International

Why: Johnson took over as CEO of the family business in 2014 and as chairperson in 2016. She is one of the richest women in the world and regularly appears on lists for the most powerful women around the world. She has introduced a more customer-focused approach since taking over and she took a hands-on approach to cleaning up the company culture after some high profile reports of bullying and harassment within the firm.


10. Margrethe Vestager

Who: European Union Competition Commissioner

Why: Not everyone making waves in business is a CEO or a tech pioneer. Vestager has shown no fear of upsetting major brands or tech giants in her efforts to introduce tougher data handling regulations, extract taxes where appropriate, and enforce competition rules. Some of her notable judgements include an order for Apple to pay €13 billion in back taxes, proving that she’s not afraid to ruffle feathers as she regulates corporate activities in Europe.


10.1 Sharon Looney

We couldn’t not mention our own Shining Star, Sharon Looney CHRO at CoreHR who has made waves in the HR World. Sharon was  recently named as one of the 100 Top HR Tech Minds in the Global HR Excellent Awards ath the 26th Annual World HRD Congress. Throughout Sharon’s career, she’s been passionate about helping people lead fulfilling, successful careers, focusing on how to unleash potential and performance through the leaders they work most closely with.






Feeling Inspired? Download our eBook “The Role of HR In Change Management and 5 Top Tips For Success!”

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Deirdre PluckBy Deirdre Pluck

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