13 Female CEO’s Crushing their Niche

The world of business has been dominated by men for centuries. This wasn’t because they’re better at it. No, it was because women weren’t even given the chance to prove their abilities. Historically, we were considered ‘inferior’, and not trusted with the most important jobs.
Now I look around and have to say “Wow! Times really have changed!”

See, once women were able to prove our worth, and force our way into high power positions, we were able to prove we can do the job just as well as our male colleagues.

Today we’re going to take a look at fifteen women who are huge influences for me, and great role-models for any aspiring business woman! These ladies don’t just operate at a high level in business, they are the absolute Queens of their empires, the captains of their ships. These are fifteen of the greatest female CEO’s around the world:

  1. Sheri McCoy (Avon) 

sheriSheri is an outstanding role-model for women everywhere, and has been kicking ass her entire life. She holds a Bachelors degree in Textile Chemistry, a Masters in Chemical Engineering, an MBA, and five patents of her own!

Having started as a chemical engineer for Johnson & Johnson in 1982, Sheri moved up quickly. By the 2000’s, she was in charge of the companies Latin American market, and became Vice Chair of the company in 2010.

Having been passed over for the CEO position in 2012, this powerful woman resigned and took on the CEO position at Avon Products instead.

2. Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!)

Marissa really blossomed during her educational years, showing great intelligence and a strong desire to help others. She participated in many extra-curricular activities in high school, including precision dance, curling, debate and ballet, while also volunteering to help at hospitals.

Marissa received many job offers after graduation. She accepted one from Google, becoming their 20th employee and first female engineer!

A variety of promotions saw her rise through the company and hold a number of different positions. In 2012, Marissa left Google to become the CEO of Yahoo!, a position she still holds.

  1. Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo)

Indra has long been considered one of the worlds most powerful women. Born and educated in India, she joined PepsiCo in 1994 having enjoyed success in a number of positions at other corporations.

Since then her impact has included the acquisitions of Tropicana, and Quaker Oats Company. She became CFO in 2001, and took over the CEO position in 2006. Indra is an amazing business-woman, combining great vision and strategy. This also saw her named CEO of the Year in 2009.

  1. Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard) 

US Business Hall of Famer Meg Whitman started her career as a brand manager for Procter & Gamble in the late 1970’s. She rose through the ranks quickly, and has held powerful positions at Disney, Hasbro, and eBay amongst others.

She took the CEO position at eBay when their annual revenue was around $4 million. In the next decade, eBay’s yearly revenues grew to $8 billion, a phenomenal increase.

Meg stepped down as CEO in late 2007, saying “10 years is roughly the right time to stay at the helm at a company like ours”. She took over as CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 2011.

  1. Irene Rosenfeld (Mondelez) 

ireneIrene started off working for a New York ad agency, though she soon found herself in the food industry. Irene took over as CEO for  Frito-Lay in 2004, and later moved on to the CEO position at Kraft Foods in 2006.

Kraft has since split into two companies – Kraft Foods, which handles the North American grocery business, and the larger Mondelez International, which handles the global snack business. Irene retained the CEO position at the larger Mondelez, and continues to do so.

  1. Ursula Burns (Xerox) 

Ursula is a true rags-to-riches story, and massively inspirational. She was born to Panamian immigrants, and raised in an NY housing project by her single mother.

In 1980 she began work as a summer intern for Xerox, and rose through the company rapidly, being named senior vice-president in 2000. In 2009 she took over the CEO position, becoming the first female CEO to succeed another female as head of a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first black-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

  1. Ginni Rometty (IBM) 

Virginia Rometty is the CEO of IBM. She also serves as their Chairman & President.

Ginni started at IBM in 1981, as a systems engineer. She has since moved up and is the first woman to lead IBM during the company’s history, starting in 2012.

Ginni was also ranked the 3rd on Fortune’s 2015 Most Powerful Women list, and is a role-model to women everywhere.

  1. Mary Barra (General Motors)

In 2014, Mary Barra became the first female CEO at any global car manufacturer. This is a major feat in a traditionally male dominated industry.

Mary has worked at GM her entire career, starting out at 18. She also made history earlier in 2015 by becoming Fortune 500’s highest ranked female CEO ever, at number six. There’s plenty of time left for her to break more records as well.

  1. Denise Morrison (Campbell Soup Company)

Denise comes from a very successful business family. Her father, Dennis Sullivan, passed on all his business knowledge to his four daughters, all of whom have been very successful. 

Denise has held top positions at a variety of companies, including Nestle, Nabisco and Kraft Foods. Her sisters have also held powerful positions at Frontier Communications, AT&T, Expedia and Microsoft, amongst others. 

  1. Heather Bresch (Mylan)

heatherHeather started at pharmaceutical giant Mylan in 1992 as a clerk. She credits her success to an approach of “hard work and learning the industry inside out”. 

Promotions came frequently for Heather, who was appointed director of government relations by 2002. Her appointment as CEO began in 2012, making her the first female CEO of a major pharmaceutical company. 

  1. Debra Cafaro (Ventas) Debra Cafaro is the current CEO of Ventas, a healthcare real estate investment trust. Her path into business was through law school, and was active in real estate, corporate and finance law from 1983-1997.

Becoming CEO at Ventas in 1999, Debra has been widely thought of as a safe and solid business-woman, for her consistent ability to create safe business strategies. She cites her hard-working family as the source of her magnificent work ethic.

  1. Lynn Good (Duke Energy)

Lynn made big strides early in her career when she was an auditor at Arthur Andersen & Co, where she “broke the barrier to females playing major roles in auditing”, eventually becoming a partner in the firm. She later moved to Cinergy, and rose up the ranks there too, even after they were taken over by Duke. Following some controversy over the CEO position when Duke became Duke Energy after a merger, Lynn was given the job in 2013.

  1. Beth Mooney (KeyCorp)

Beth has been the CEO at KeyCorp since 2011, and became the first woman to land the position at a top 20 U.S. Bank. 

Beth also has an interesting back story to go with her start in the banking business. She approached a banking management program and refused to leave the manager’s office until he gave her a shot on the program. He gave her the shot, and she’s since risen through the industry, having worked a vast number of roles before becoming a CEO. 

That wraps up our look at 13 bold, smart and inspiring female CEO’s. Who inspires you? Let us know with a comment!