Forbes unveiled its list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2012 and Sonia Gandhi was ranked 6th, even higher than US First Lady Michelle Obama. Other Indian women on the list were Indra Nooyi (12th), Padmashree Warrior (58th), Chanda Kochhar (59th) and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (80th).
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel was ranked 1st for the 6th time in 7 years. Popularly known as the Iron Lady of Europe, the 58 year old started out as a physical chemist by profession. She took to politics only in the late eighties after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Merkel has been in office since 2005 and even today, has approval rating of as high as 70%.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained her 2nd rank from 2011. President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff was ranked 3rd for the second time. Microsoft co-founder and wife of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates moved up two places to be ranked 4th. Taking 5th spot was Jill Abramson, Executive Editor of The New York Times.
Sonia Gandhi moved up one place to be ranked as the 6th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2012. The 65 year old even edged out Michelle Obama, US First Lady who was in fact, ranked one in 2010. Forbes magazine applauded Gandhi’s return to active life after undergoing a cancer surgery. Besides commenting her position as the longest serving Chief of the Indian National Congress Party, Forbes also noted that ‘Sonia Gandhi is an avid scholar of the arts, and holds a degree in oil painting conservation’.
Ranked 6th, Sonia Gandhi is well ahead of other influential women of the world including Michelle Obama, Christine Lagarde, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey, Meg Whitman, Queen Elizabeth II and a host of other women politicians, entrepreneurs, business heads and celebrities.
IIM Calcutta graduate Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo was ranked 12th. Nooyi’s career at PepsiCo began in 1994 and has since then, held various positions in the company including CFO and currently, CEO. In the past, the 56 year old has worked with Boston Consulting Group and Motorola. Forbes calls her a ‘superstar CEO’ and applauds how she revitalized PepsiCo by making ‘big changes’ that saw reduced costs, increased revenues and new products.
India born Padmashree Warrior, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer at Cisco Systems was ranked 58th. The 51 year old executive was born and raised in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. She is an IIT graduate and later studied at Cornell University. In the early eighties, Warrior joined Motorola and made her way up to being Senior VP after which she left to join Cisco Systems in 2007.
MD & CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kochhar was ranked 59th most powerful woman and Forbes mentioned many of her achievements at ICICI including ‘building the bank’s retail arm from scratch’. Kochhar was born and raised in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and she holds a B.A. from Jai Hind College and a business degree from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. Besides being at the helm of India’s largest private bank in India, Chanda Kochhar is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry and holds numerous other board positions.
80th on the list was the poster child of Indian women entrepreneurs, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & MD, Biocon. After finishing her BSc from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw studied malting and brewing in Australia. It is said that she started Biocon in the garage of her house back in 1978 and steered it to being one of India’s premier biopharmaceutical companies.
In a recent study by Dell in June, 71% of women business owners in India said that their businesses were successful and nearly 80% said that they are currently hiring.
Dell’s report also highlighted India as one of the most favorable places for women entrepreneurs to start a business. If recent hiring trends and forecasted growth of businesses owned by women entrepreneurs in India hold true in the long term, we could possibly see more Indian women in Forbes’ ‘most powerful’ lists in the coming years.