This week we would like to celebrate the women in business who have risen to the top of their field. Finance, medicine, tech, and agricultural innovation are just a few areas that have seen a recent increase in the number of women leaders. At USAmeriBank, we are proud to support women as they make their mark in these competitive fields, and want to share with you six women who have reached success in these challenging markets. These inspiring women show us through their hard work, perseverance, and innovative thinking what it means to be a leader.
Indra Nooyi became the first female CEO of PepsiCo in 2006, and was named to the Board of Directors just one year later. During her tenure as CEO, she has fostered an atmosphere of agility that has helped PepsiCo survive the recent shifts in nutritional concerns. She has led numerous mergers and acquisitions to diversify the company’s food offerings and has skillfully navigated the health food crisis while still staying true to their roots. Her childhood was spent in conservative Madras, India, and her strict but supportive mother helped shape her into a confident, hardworking leader in business. Even though her mother held traditional values and emphasized the importance of marriage, she always encouraged her daughters to follow their dreams. Nooyi credits her mother with instilling the confidence she needed to become a top executive. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Madras Christian College, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta, and a Master of Public and Private Management from Yale University. She first joined PepsiCo as Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning in 1994 and has been rising in the ranks ever since. Nooyi believes that in today’s fast-paced environment constant reinvention and innovative thinking is key, and has proven that she is more than up to the challenge.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the founder of Biocon India, and the current Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Limited. She is no stranger to success and has won numerous awards and accolades for her work in biopharmaceuticals and biotechnology. These awards are recognition of her tireless persistence and dedication to innovation. Mazumdar-Shaw initially planned to become a brewmaster, and holds a bachelor’s degree in science from Bangalore University, and a master’s degree in malting and brewing from Ballarat College, Melbourne University. After receiving pushback at home from companies unwilling to hire a female brewer, she connected with Leslie Auchincloss, owner of the Irish firm Biocon Biochemicals. They became business partners, and in 1978 she founded Biocon India out of her garage with the equivalent of under $200. As a young woman and one of India’s first biopharmaceutical entrepreneurs, Mazumdar-Shaw initially had trouble securing staff and capital. However, she persevered, and soon Biocon had cornered the market and began exporting enzymes to Europe and the United States. Although Mazumdar-Shaw continued to face challenges as a businesswoman in India, under her innovative guidance Biocon continued to grow. In 2001 Biocon became the first Indian company to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the manufacture of lovastatin. In March of 2004 Biocon launched its IPO and closed its first day with a market value of $1.11 billion.
Cher Wang has proven herself to be a leader in persistence, adaptability and innovative thinking. These traits have launched her and her company, HTC to the top of the market. Wang grew up in an environment that fostered her entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropic attitude. Her father, Wang Yung-Ching, ran the Formosa Plastics Group and was named by Forbes as the second richest man in Taiwan. Far from allowing complacency in his children, however, he instilled an enduring work-ethic that has helped Wang build HTC into a household name. He insisted on exposure to different experiences by orchestrating monthly visits to a local hospital, and by requiring his children to study abroad. This exposure built a unique worldview for Wang that has been central to her entrepreneurial approach. Wang moved to the United States for schooling, and 1981 she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Wang began a sales position in her sister’s tech company, First International Computer, and it was during her travels throughout Europe that she recognized a need for a more portable solution to the laptop. That idea grew into HTC, which became the “largest selling mobile phone brand at AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint”. One of every six smartphones sold in the US is made by HTC, many under different names. With an estimated net worth of $850 million, Cher Wang was among Forbes’ list of Taiwan’s 50 Richest in 2016. Although HTC’s newest venture into virtual reality has been less successful, Wang has proven herself in the tech industry, and we are interested to see what her next move will be.
Ursula Burns became CEO of Xerox in 2009, and in doing so, made history as the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company. She has since initiated a major acquisition in the company that has taken Xerox from a copy and printing business to a full-scale technology heavyweight. Under her leadership, Xerox generated $18 billion in revenue in 2015. With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Brooklyn (1980), a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University (1981), and nearly 30 years of experience growing in the ranks at Xerox, she was well placed to take over the helm, and has proven that she has what it takes to lead this company to further success. Burns’ childhood spent in low-income housing in the Lower East Side of Manhattan meant she had to work hard for her opportunities. “I doubted myself big time,” she says of her initial time spent at the Polytechnic Institute. She recalls anxiety about belonging in such a position, but cites support from her mother and her time at Cathedral High School as bolstering her confidence, and she soon found her own place in her field. This year Xerox officially split into two separate companies. Burns was initially expected to continue on with the new document technology company; however, after a historic tenure, Burns has decided to step down as CEO and will be succeeded by Jeff Jacobsen.
Shery Sandberg has been hailed by Forbes as “one of the nation's most influential female executives,” and she has the credentials to back it up. The Ivy League educated businesswoman has held top positions in finance, government and tech and is now making her mark as a best-selling author. She graduated from Harvard summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics (1991) and went on to work with Larry Summers at the World Bank. After earning her MBA with the highest distinction in 1995 from Harvard Business School, Sandberg became Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of the Treasury under President Clinton. Her time in Washington helped shape her into a true leader and expert manager, skills she has carried with her when she moved to Silicon Valley in 2000. She first joined Google as the VP of global online sales and operations where she enjoyed stunning success in her new role and spearheaded the launch of Google.org, the company’s charitable initiative. After her success at Google, Sandberg was primed to make the move to Facebook as its COO in 2008, and her performance has continued to impress. She has been hailed for her key management skills, her ability to handle difficult personalities, and her uniting leadership style. Sandberg’s tenure as COO has led to significant increases in revenues for Facebook. Her most recent endeavors have put her on the best sellers list as the author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Following the overwhelming success of her book, she has founded LeanIn.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women through outreach, education and community awareness.
Cynthia Ndubuisi is an up and coming star in the world of female entrepreneurs. A 2015 Dartmouth Mandela Washington Fellow and winner of Unilever’s 2016 Young Entrepreneurs Award. At just 26years old, Ndubuisi has started two successful agricultural and lifestyle endeavors and is primed to make a significant impact to her home country of Nigeria. Her first company, EverGlow, produces liquid soap, providing a cost-effective alternative to the bar soap primarily used in Nigerian households. Her newest initiative, Kadosh Production Company (KPC), significantly improves the processing time and profitability of cassava farming in Nigeria, while reducing the environmental impact of traditional cassava production methods. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, and the primary labor is performed by women farmers. The traditional process is labor intensive and inefficient, and the women farmers of Nigeria are most heavily impacted. Ndubuisi grew up with her aunt, who is a cassava farmer in Nigeria, and so is intimately familiar with the challenges they face. Ndubuisi has longed to improve the quality of production from an early age. Thanks to her innovative process, the farmers can decrease their production time by 200% and their production cost by 20-30%. The new process also creates a sellable by-product out of the peels, further increasing the revenue. KPC has set up cooperatives between the farmers and retailers to facilitate steady processing, and it also provides business mentoring for its members. The company has worked with 60 cassava farmers thus far and expects to reach 65% of the farms in the Niger Delta by 2020. Ndubuisi is also the founder of Confident Woman (now the CAMY foundation) that mentors and empowers young women. The CAMY foundation has more than 450 members in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
These leading women in business are inspiring examples of excellence in their fields. No goal is too high to strive for, and at USAmeriBank we want to help you reach your business and personal goals. Speak to your local USAmeriBank lending officer, or reach out to us at 1-800- 949-5666 or www.usameribank.com to discuss how we can help you plan for financial success.