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4 Female CEOs Who Should Be Household Names

Historically, the number of female business leaders at top income generating companies has more or less gone unnoticed, even more so at C level. However, the number of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies has seen a steady rise since 1998, and as of 2016, there will be 21 women who now make up this list (down from 24 in 2014). Below, we take a look at the profiles of four female CEOs leading some of the biggest corporations in the world.

Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi

                          Indra Nooyi (Source:

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, Inc.  

Indra Nooyi’s appointment in 2006 has led to PepsiCo becoming the second-largest company in the United States with a female as its CEO. And being an immigrant to the US from India, her rise to prominence is especially celebratory. Indra has been credited with pushing Pepsi ahead of its longtime rival, Coca-Cola, in the early 2000s. In 2006 she topped the list for Fortune magazine’s 50 most powerful women in American business. 

Interesting fact: Nooyi routinely analyses Chicago Bulls basketball game recordings in order to gain an outside perspective on teamwork.

Mary Barra

Marry Barra (Source:

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors Co. (GM)

Mary Barra has broken new ground by becoming the first woman in history to lead a major     international automaker. She was promoted to CEO in January 2014, after previously serving as the corporation’s Executive VP of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. Unlike many other top executives, Barra’s upbringing was quite modest, growing up in the suburbs of Michigan as the daughter of a Pontiac die maker. In April 2014 she was featured on the cover of Time magazine in their “100 Most Influential People in the World” edition. 

Interesting fact: She keeps an Albert Einstein bobble-head on her desk, a prize she won from a war-game competition between other fellow executives. 

Virginia Rometty

Virginia Rometty (Source:

Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM

Virginia Rometty is the first woman to lead IBM. Having worked for the technology giant since 1981, her previous posts included Senior VP and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing and Strategy. One of her greatest accomplishments was pioneering the acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting for $3.5 billion, which dramatically increased IBM’s team of expert consultants by over 100,000. She also pioneered IBM’s entry into several international markets, including Brazil and China. Hailing from Chicago, Rometty started working shortly after graduating from Northwestern University, with a BS in computer science and electrical engineering.

Interesting fact: Virginia Rometty has been included onFortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” for eight consecutive years, and ranked number one in 2012. 

Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns (Source:

Ursula M. Burns, CEO of Xerox Corp.

Ursula Burns is the first African American woman to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Her upbringing could not have been any more humble – as one of three children, Burns grew up in public assistance housing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side under the care of a single mother. She started as an intern at Xerox in 1981, and then worked as an executive assistant before progressing into management roles. Ursula became VP for global manufacturing in 1999, and became a senior VP in 2000, before finally receiving her appointment for Chief Executive Officer in 2009. She has been credited with expanding Xerox from the copy and printing trade to a modern-day technology and services corporation.

Interesting fact: In 2009 US President Barack Obama chose Burns to help lead the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) coalition, which encourages students to participate and excel in these industries.