In the male-dominated corporate world, talented and determined women who make it to the top are truly an inspiration. Here are five female CEOs who have helped pave the way for other aspiring businesswomen to capture their own positions of power and leadership.
1. Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods
Irene Rosenfeld has been a food industry leader for decades. Before becoming the CEO of Kraft Foods, the world’s second-largest food manufacturer, Rosenfeld was the CEO of Frito-Lay. Since she joined Kraft in 2006, the company has made slow but steady progress. Its rejuvenation was demonstrated clearly when it replaced AIG on the Dow Jones Industrial. In 2009, it bought the British brand Cadbury. The Wall Street Journal ranked Rosenfeld sixth on its “50 Women to Watch” list in 2008, and Forbes designated her tenth on its “Most Powerful Women” list in 2011.
2. Sharen Turney, CEO of Victoria’s Secret
Growing up on a farm in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Sharen Jester Turney planned to become a teacher. Instead, her path led her to the fashion industry. Before becoming the CEO of all three divisions of the Victoria’s Secret brand, she held the title of CEO and president of Neiman Marcus Direct. Under Turney’s direction, Victoria’s Secret has become one of the world’s leading direct marketers of women’s apparel and lingerie. A recipient of prestigious humanitarian awards as well as business accolades, Turney is ranked third on Fortune Magazine’s “25 Highest-Paid Women” list. Her employees say that she leads by inspiration.
3. Angela Braly, Chairman, Former President and CEO of WellPoint
If the name WellPoint is not immediately familiar, it may be more easily recognized by its consumer brand name, BlueCross BlueShield. The healthcare company is so well known that one out of every nine Americans carries a BlueCross insurance card. The company’s revenue approached $60 billion, and it has employed as many as 37,500 people. Angela Braly served as CEO of WellPoint from 2007 until she resigned in 2012 due to shareholder criticism. Braly was named the sixteenth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2007. She then rose to fourth in 2008 and dropped to eighth in 2009. Fortune ranked her fourth most powerful woman in business in 2007 and 2009.
4. Carol M. Meyrowitz, President and CEO of The TJX Companies
As CEO of The TJX Companies since 2007, Carol Meyrowitz has helped develop leading discount retailers such as TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Home Goods into a $25.9 billion business. Before climbing the corporate ladder, she started out as an assistant buyer at Saks. Her hard work and determination paid off.
5. Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
After joining PepsiCo in 1994, Indra Nooyi gained momentum and was named CEO in 2001. She helped the company acquire the Tropicana and Quaker Oats brands, and she added Gatorade and some healthy food choices to PepsiCo’s repertoire. Since 2001, PepsiCo’s revenue has risen by 72 percent, thanks in part to Nooyi’s restructuring strategies. It has even surpassed its rival Coca-Cola in market value for the first time in more than 100 years. Forbes named Nooyi the fourth most powerful women in 2011.