2015 was heralded the “Year of the Woman” as General Motors’ Mary Barra, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Xerox’s Ursula Burns guided their respective companies through corporate transformations.
Meanwhile, two of the Big Four accounting firms now have female CEOs (including MWW’s client Deloitte, led by Cathy Englebert).
And two women are running for President – one from each party.
While it’s nice to think of the time when women reaching top leadership posts is no longer news, the reality is that only 21 of the Fortune 500 have females in the top positions. So I expect female leadership to remain front and center as a business news topic.
Here are great women leaders to watch:
Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty faces heavy pressure from Wall Street to reverse the slide of Big Blue, which has posted 14 consecutive quarters of declining revenues. In a bid to gain relevance in the fast changing technology market, Rometty, has divested $8B in IBM businesses and focused on what she calls “strategic imperatives.”
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg has positioned Facebook as a leader in mobile advertising, where revenue in that category accounts for the bulk of overall ad sales. She now is developing a monetization strategy for photo-sharing app Instagram.
Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has revamped the soda giant to focus on non-carbonated beverages, which now generate about half of its beverage sales. She has said carbonated drinks, which are under attack from politicians and health advocates, are “a thing of the past.” Her strategy paid off with robust organic growth in 2015.
Marillyn Hewson, CEO, Lockheed Martin
Marillyn Hewson aggressively countered the cut in federal spending for information technology by spending $9B in 2015 to acquire Sikorsky Aircraft to position Lockheed Martin in lucrative military and civilian helicopter markets. Since taking the helm three years ago, Hewson has cemented the company’s status as the best-run defense contractor.
Beth Comstock, Vice Chair, General Electric
Beth Comstock, a corporate communications and marketing veteran, became General Electric’s first female vice chair in 2015.
The 55-year joined GE in 2003 as marketing chief and previously served as president of NBC Universal Integrated Media and in posts at NBC, CBS and Turner Broadcasting.
Keep your eye on Comstock.