08th Mar 2013

Nooyi, Mayer and Sandberg: Celebrating Female Leaders on International Women’s Day

Last year we saw a century-long record broken when IBM named Virginia Rometty CEO; she is the first woman to head the company since it was founded in 1911. We also counted 20 female CEOs at the biggest US corporations – a new record. To mark International Women’s Day, we will take a look at some of the worlds great female leaders.

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi is chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, the largest US based food and beverage company. Nooyi has been listed as one of TIME’s Most Influential People in the World and is regularly ranked as one of the world’s most powerful women. Born and raised in India, Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994. In 2001 she became president and CFO, and in 2005 she became CEO. Since she started as CFO the company’s annual revenues have risen 72%.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!

At 37 years old, she became the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company. When Yahoo! appointed Marissa Mayer chief executive last year it was the end of a long search for the troubled company – Mayer is Yahoo!’s fifth CEO in as many years. Mayer surprised many at the time, by leaving Google for Yahoo!. When she joined Google in 1999 Mayer was the company’s first female engineer. She rose steadily though the ranks in her 13 years with the search engine giant, and at the time of leaving she was VP of Location & Local Service. Unafraid of criticism, Mayer recently made headlines again for her decision to crack down on employees working from home.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook

Since 2008 Sandberg has been COO of the social networking colossus which now has over 1 billion active users. She is second in command to Mark Zuckerberg, and the first woman elected to the company’s board of directors. Prior to this Sandberg was VP of Global Online Sales & Operations at Google, she was an economist for the World Bank and she was chief of staff for the US Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton.

What do these great female leaders have in common? They have vision, and they have the courage to carry out that vision. These are the foundations of great leadership, and these women have that in spades. We should take inspiration from them, and particularly today. Sandberg recently released her first book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. In it she writes “The time is long overdue to encourage more women to dream the possible dream.” This is a fitting reminder to take with us on International Women’s Day.

Hilda Goold

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