Fortune magazine’s annual list includes everyone from Mary Barra and Indra Nooyi to Sheryl Sandberg and Reese Witherspoon
These women have already broken the glass ceiling.
Fortune magazine just released its index of the most powerful women in corporate America, a list that’s led by General Motors chairman and chief exec Mary Barra for the third consecutive year. The business title awarded the 55-year-old former engineering major the accolade in part because of her longevity (she’s been at the company for nearly four decades and has outlasted her counterpart at competitor Ford) and strategic positioning of GM to deal with the rise of electric and self-driving vehicles.
The magazine’s list is populated with many names a casual reader of the news will be familiar with. Right behind Barra is PepsiCo big Indra Nooyi, who’s maneuvering a beverage maker best known for selling fizzy drinks into the more lucrative health food sector. She’s also the cover star of Fortune’s current print issue. In third and fourth place respectively are Marillyn Hewson, who runs defense contractor Lockheed Martin, and IBM chief Gini Rometty.
The tech world is relatively well represented on this index, which includes Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Google’s cost-cutting CFO Ruth “Vadar” Poret, Hewlett Packard Enterprises’ Meg Whitman, Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts and YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki, who’s leading the video streaming platform into the original programming battle. Conspicuously missing however, is former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who last appeared on the list in 2015; she left the company this summer after the once high-flying tech giant’s media assets were sold to Verizon.
Other ladybosses come from businesses that generally shy away from the spotlight. Fidelity Investments chairman and CEO Abigail Johnson is in fourth spot, while military contractor Phebe Novakovic, JPMorgan Chase’s CFO Marianne Lake and Hershey’s president Michele Buck are also scattered among the fifty. Less glamorous companies like Best Buy (executive veep Shari Ballard), Home Depot (top exec Crystal Hanlon) and Staples (chief Shira Goodman) also have a claim.
As a bonus choice, Fortune included actress and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon in 51st place. This isn’t entirely surprising: more than 15 years after her breakthrough on “Legally Blonde,” Witherspoon has developed a reputation as a savvy businesswoman. Her Pacific Standard production company is behind hits like “Big Little Lies” while Witherspoon’s retail brand Draper James is a very visible representative of sunny Southern style. “Between her ever-expanding business empire and her emergence as an advocate for telling women’s stories, Witherspoon is a perfect bonus pick,” the magazine’s editors wrote.
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