The 5 Admired Female Business Leaders of the Past Year

Women in Business

As gender equality becomes more of a priority in world society, more women are becoming prominent business leaders.

Women prove their savvy, leadership and humanity in major organizations across the globe.

5 Admired Female Business Leaders of 2012

Here are five women who have led their businesses to success in 2012.

Melinda Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda GatesMelinda Gates is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the wealthiest and most philanthropic private foundation in the world. Melinda Gates’ major achievement this past year was challenging the Vatican to reverse its stance on birth control.

She has vowed to improve access to contraceptives to women throughout the world, especially in developing countries. Other recognitions include:

  • 2006: Received Order of the Aztec Eagle for philanthropy in world health and education, specifically in Mexico
  • 2006: Honored at Seattle Children’s hospital with the Melinda French Gates Ambulatory Care building

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo

Indra NooyiIndra Nooyi is the chair and CEO of PepsiCo. The past few years have shown tremendous growth under her leadership. She has reorganized management and improved advertising budgets. Shareholders received $5.6 billion when the net revenue increased 14% to $66 billion.

In addition to launching a mid-calorie soda with 60% less sugar, she rearranged the top executives this year, a move that her peers interpret as preparing for her successor. Her other achievements include:

  • 2009: Recognized as one of “The TopGun CEOs” by Brendan Wood International
  • 2008-2011: Named to Best CEOs list in Institutional Investors

Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods

Irene RosenfeldIrene Rosenfeld is the chair and CEO of Kraft Foods. This past year, she was the genius who planned dividing Kraft into two separate companies. She will lead the snack food side of the business, which brings $35 billion in revenue and will be called Mondelez International.

This means that, as director of marketing and statistics, she will manage the brands Oreo, Ritz and Tang. She sees this as a wise investment as ever busy consumers eat fewer meals at home. Her major recognitions include:

  • 2008: Placed on Wall Street Journal’s “50 Women to Watch” list
  • 2012: Ranked #13 on Forbes’ list of Power Women

Ursula Burns, Xerox

Ursula BurnsAs the chair and CEO of Xerox, Ursula Burns leads the copying business. This past year, Xerox obtained six outsourcing companies, which will expand the company across Europe. Burns wants to repackage Xerox as a copying service, not just a retailer of copying machines and printers.

The company now earns half of its revenue from services such as managing electronic ticket transactions, road tolls and parking meters. Burns also sees growth in small investments in healthcare and processing technologies. Other achievements include:

  • 2011: Spoke at MIT’s commencement
  • 2012: Protested the Augusta National Golf Club’s male-only membership policy; the club opened membership to women for the first time in 80 years.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook

Sheryl SandbergAs Facebook’s Chief Operations Officer and first female board member, Sheryl Sandberg is responsible for profit strategies. This past year, she headed the $100 billion IPO launch of the company. In addition to her role at Facebook, she serves on the board of Disney, where she advocates young women at work.

Past positions include serving as the chief of staff for the Department of Treasury under Bill Clinton and being in charge of Google’s online sales. Her other achievements include:

  • 2010: Gave a TED talk on “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”
  • 2013: Released her first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Many people worldwide respect and admire these great businesswomen. They have demonstrated impressive skills in leading their respective businesses. They have worked hard to be on equal ground with their male cohorts, and they will continue to set the standard for excellence for women in the workforce.


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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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  1. Aditi Chopra on May 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    It is certainly good to see more women leaders. Quite often I have heard women leaders speak and one thing I found common was how they praised their spouses for tremendous support behind them. It does take a lot more for women leaders to balance their career aspirations and personal lives so kudos to them and their supporting husbands.

  2. Vanguard Organizational Leadership on May 22, 2013 at 8:46 am

    These are just a few of the many women who are leading in a wide variety of positions in business. It would be good to see a longer list of women leaders, including those in countries world-wide. As well, there are many in non-business environments who are worthy of praise. All are great role models for everyone.