Have your parents ever nudged you to find a man who’s “well accomplished” and “provides” for you and your family? If you’re nodding your head, you know what I’m talking about! Let me remind you something; you can be as successful or more as your male counterparts in this cut-throat, competitive corporate world.
Today’s woman does not need a man to pay the bills or buy her dinner. And she most certainly doesn’t want to depend on anyone for that matter to be financially stable. You may have gone to college and graduated with a degree, or you may have dropped out of college to take up a job. You may have landed your dream job after rigorously building that resume, or you may have started your own damn business to help out your clients.
Whoever you are, whatever you do, you started with a ‘why,’ and that reason for most career-driven women is to be that ‘CEO,’ her own ‘BOSS,’ and shatter that glass ceiling.
Are you in that phase of your life when you’re deciding what subject to major in college, what companies to apply to, in search of a female role model who inspires you, or be the CEO of your own company? Let me introduce you to some powerhouse female CEOs who’ve paved the way for you.
Companies have a long way to go in the representation of female leadership and diversity. It’s a victory that in 2019 the Fortune 500 featured more female CEOs than ever before among the largest companies in America. You buy and use products in your daily life from these companies, and many may not realize that some brilliant women CEOs run it.
10 Female CEOs you should look up to:
1. Mary Dillon - Ulta Beauty
An accomplished CEO of Ulta Beauty since 2013, Fortune has called Ulta Beauty the “fastest-growing cosmetics empire.” Mary Dillon is best known as one of the most powerful and influential women CEOs in the United States and has won many awards for her philanthropy. So next time, you enter Ulta Beauty, think and thank Mary Dillon.
2. Kathryn Marinello - Hertz
When you booked that Hertz rental car on your vacation, you had no idea you’re in it for Kathryn Marinello. When Hertz had a disappointing few quarters, they appointed Kathryn Marinello as the CEO in 2016. She earned Hertz Global Holdings a place on the 2017 Fortune 500 list, an honor that was not bestowed in 2016.
3. Jill Soltau - JCPenney
The mega-giant retailer JCPenney is where it is because of Jill Soltau. In 2018, Jill Soltau came over to JCPenney with 30 years of retail experience.
4. Beth Ford - Land O’Lakes
Beth Ford was named CEO of Land O’Lakes in August 2018, becoming the first openly gay woman to head a Fortune 500 company. They highlighted their choice of “the person they felt best met the criteria to drive success.” And that statement stands true for all of us who second doubt ourselves. In the end, your skills and work ethic are what matter!
5. Barbara Rentler - Ross
Ross - Dress for Less was a game-changer in the fashion retail industry. If you’ve shopped at Ross - Shop for Less, and were looking to thank the person for giving you quality products at such reasonable prices, now you know! Especially when retailers around the US are struggling to keep up with their businesses. Barbara Rentler at Ross is undoubtedly to thank for being the CEO since 2014.
6. Michelle Gass - Kohl’s
Gass has been CEO of Kohl’s since spring 2018 after serving as Chief Merchandising and Customer Officer. Recently, Gass wrote a letter about strengthening Kohl’s commitment to the well-being of families and children as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility platform, giving millions through partnerships. Now that’s called doing good business and giving back to society.
7. Lynn Good - Duke Energy
Less than a year after Lynn Good became CEO of Duke Energy, she was dealing with a worst-case scenario: thousands of tons of coal ash spilling into the Dan River in North Carolina. The controversy that swirled around Good for months following didn’t stop Fortune from writing an article titled “Is Lynn Good the smartest (new) CEO in the energy industry?” just nine months later. There will be times when your talent and decisions will be questioned as a woman in the C-suite, but don’t the chatter bother you. Right or wrong - you will triumph if you put your mind into it and treat your company like your own.
8. Ginni Rometty - IBM
IBM has been a technology giant for over a century: In January 2012, Ginni Rometty became its first female CEO. Although IBM has seen significant, consecutive declines in its revenue, there is hope that the company will be a pioneer in AI. On January 30, 2020, Rometty announced she would step down as CEO on April 6, 2020. That still doesn’t take away all the contributions Ginni made to bring IBM to greater heights of success.
9. Laura Alber - Williams-Sonoma
Laura Alber took over Williams-Sonoma, the specialty home retailer, in 2010, having started there in 1995 as a Pottery Barn senior buyer. In 2006, the University of Pennsylvania graduate became president of Williams-Sonoma and four years later replaced former CEO W. Howard Lester, becoming one of the highest-paid women in American business. Alber has brought a unique approach to business, which she called a “willingness to blend art with science, ideas with data, and instinct with analysis.” You will have ladders to climb in the corporate world, and I bet you will work your way up from one role to the other, learning and failing and rising again.
10. Mary Barra - General Motors
How many people do we know who started at a job and worked their way to the top? If this is not a sign of loyalty and determination, then what is? The top woman on this list is the first to be named CEO of a major global automaker. Mary Barra started as a co-op student at the General Motors Institute when she was just 18 and rose to CEO 34 years later in 2014. As traditional automakers defend their business models against generational shifts in car ownership and unprecedented technological advancement, having a grounded CEO to lead the charge will be more critical than ever.
If these ladies have paved the way, worked on their skill sets, broke the gender barriers, and shattered the glass ceiling - what’s stopping you from aiming high?
Join in the conversation and tell me if you see yourself or your friend reaching the C-suite in the future?
Make yourself and your parents proud by being the CEO of your dreams!
Source: Excerpts from ‘Fortune 500 Top Female CEO’s of America’
Written by: Anjali Nair
Lifestyle Blogger and Founder of ‘A Desi Girl in US’ in Tampa, Florida. When she’s not blogging and coaching immigrant women of color in the United States, she’s traveling around the coast, creating content, watching Bollywood movies, and eating up some spicy food. Follow her adventures at @adesigirlinus and subscribe to her Blog.