Career Lessons Inspired by The Most Successful Female Leaders

Career Lessons Inspired by The Most Successful Female Leaders

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On January 21, the first-ever Women’s March took place across the US to address people’s concerns over women’s rights as well as the protection of humanity and cultural diversity.  With a whopping 5 million activists joining the campaign worldwide, Women’s March has inspired generations of women and men alike to continue fighting against sexism.

In the business world alone, there are more and more female leaders who have achieved astonishing success and reached the upper echelons of their field. They are the proof that women have the same capabilities as their male counterparts with the right support from the community.

In joining force with the rest of the world to amplify women’s power, Jobstore has compiled the list of 5 most powerful businesswomen to inspire you to take the lead today.

In no particular order, here are the most successful female leaders in business.

Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook

sheryl sandberg

Sandberg has demonstrated her strong business skills since an early age with an extraordinary conceptual understanding in mathematics. Her first professional experience was with World Bank as a research assistant to the chief economist before completing her MBA at Harvard.

Rewind the clock to Sandberg’s college time; it was when she met the mentor who later became her manager at World Bank – Larry Summers. Summers was the one who assigned Sandberg to work alongside him at World Bank and then at the U.S. Treasury Department where he held the position of Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. With all of the experiences that Sandberg gained during these years, she was appointed as vice president of sales and operations at Google, where she had optimum exposure to the technology field.

After growing with the mega tech company for eight years, Sandberg finally joined Facebook as their chief operating officer and became the first female board member. She oversees the global expansion of the social networking site, including sales and marketing, business development, and human resources.

Sheryl Sandberg is also the best-selling author of Lean In: Woman, Work, and the Will to Succeed.

What we can learn from her:

I feel really grateful to the people who encouraged me and helped me develop. Nobody can succeed on their own.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Indra Nooyi – Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo

career lesson - indra nooyi

Originally from Chennai, India (used to be known as Madras), Indra Nooyi is currently among the top leaders of PepsiCo – the fourth-largest company in the world; Nooyi’s success story is a true American dream that many people are still striving for.

Under the guidance of her mother, Nooyi was encouraged to figure out her passion since she was a child. As she grew up, she had her mind set on pursuing a degree in physics, chemistry, and maths. She continued to devote her time to studying to achieve the Post Graduate Diploma in Management from Indian Institute of Management, one of the world’s top ranking universities. With a strong foundation of knowledge, she was hired by Johnson & Johnson. She continued to work in India for two years before attending Yale to earn her master’s degree.

Indra Nooyi’s most influential philosophy is “being yourself”. It was formed when she passed an interview wearing a sari after being rejected by previous employers.  She started her career in the US at Boston Consulting Group and then Motorola. In 1994, she joined PepsiCo. Nooyi’s success didn’t happen overnight; she earned the highest position in PepsiCo, chief executive officer, after seven years of hard work and dedication.

What we can learn from her:

“Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organisation. I’ve never forgotten that.” – Indra Nooyi

Ginni Rometty – Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM

career lesson - ginni rometty
Photo credit: Fortune

Ginny Rometty reigns as the first female leader of IBM, one of the biggest technology companies in the world. She is also recognised as the most powerful women in business from 2012 – 2014 by Fortune magazine.

She majored in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Northwestern University. Her career with IBM started in 1981 with the first position as a systems engineer. Ten years later, she was transferred to the Consulting Group of IBM and got promoted to senior vice president and group executive of sales, marketing and strategy in 2009. After more than 30 years of outstanding achievements and a strong commitment to the company, she became IBM’s “wonder woman” – holding multiple roles including chairman, president, and chief executive officer.

One of the moments that defined her career development was when she almost turned down a promotion because she “was not ready yet”. She took the role eventually and gained tremendous success. That golden opportunity taught her that “growth and comfort never coexist”, which means that without taking risks, there won’t be any accomplishments.

Rometty’s most significant movement with IBM was acquiring the global consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2002. She is currently leading IBM to penetrate the cognitive computing field with Watson, its artificial intelligence technology.

What we can learn from her:

“No matter where you are in your career, work on something you’re passionate about and work on something bigger than yourself.” – Ginni Rometty

Marissa Mayer – CEO of Yahoo

career lesson - marissa mayer
Photo credit: The Legacy Project

After having remarkable success at Google, Marissa Mayer decided to take on the next challenge to save the once-dominating internet company – Yahoo. Mayer then became the youngest female CEO and also Yahoo’s heroine when she started to reform its business.

She recognised her passion for tech when she attended Stanford University. Besides an impressive education background with a degree in symbolic systems science and a master in computer science, she also owed her success to the internship opportunities that she gained at SRI International in Menlo Park and the UBS research lab in Zurich.

Unlike the majority of fresh graduates whose first jobs rarely last for 18 months, Mayer’s first job was with Google (which was then a startup company) where she devoted 6 years of her career life as a product developer, then she was appointed as vice president of search products and user experience in 2005. In 2012, Mayer announced her new venture as CEO and president of Yahoo. Her departure from Google became the hottest tech news in Silicon Valley and perhaps the entire business world.

After closing the Verizon’s $4.83bn deal to acquire Yahoo, Mayer also made a public announcement that she will continue to lead the company into its next chapter, and that is exactly what accounts for Mayer’s success: work ethic and commitment.

What we can learn from her:

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” –  Marissa Mayer

Arianna Huffington – Co-founder and former Editor in Chief of The Huffington Post, Founder of Thrive Global

career lesson - arianna huffington
Photo credit: Innovation Village

Arianna Huffington created one of today’s most prestigious news sites, The Huffington Post when she was 55, after gaining recognition as a Greek American author for her New York Times bestseller “Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America.”

Her passion for the publishing field and content curation had made Huffington Post the most powerful blog in the world (by The Observer), covering a wide range of content including news and other media categories. The site was then sold to AOL at $315 million, and Huffington herself continued to publish books, one of which has become Huffington Post’s editorial series called “On Becoming Fearless … in Love, Work, and Life”.

Huffington did not only excel in her role as an author, she also became a panel member of the TV show “Call My Bluff and Face the Music” and BBC’s political discussion program aired on Radio 4 station.

After growing the platform into its current reign, Huffington left to launch her next startup called Thrive Global, focusing on health and wellness, in 2016.

What we can learn from her:

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

Success is only the tip of an iceberg, and this applies to everyone, not just women. The number one quality that all of these powerhouses have in common is their devotion to work.

To the aspiring women out there, you, too, can achieve greatness as you learn from your mentors and from your own mistakes. While everyone can pour 100% of their effort into pursuing their dreams, push your limits and work 200% harder because that’s the only way for you to rise in the world that is still dominated by men.

Related: 4 Life Lessons We Can Learn from Disney’s Belle


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