For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Celebrating the 100 Most Powerful Women

Posted on December 6, 2018
Line drawing in a light blue color of three women standing in front of a city skyline

Forbes released their 2018 list of the world's 100 most powerful women. In looking at the list, these women wield their power across a wide variety of industries ranging from politics to automotive, philanthropy to media and entertainment, and finance and investment to technology, to name a few. These impressive women are running countries, breaking glass ceilings, engaging in innovation, caring for our environment, advocating for others, and they are aggressively contributing to the bottom line of the companies they run - they rock!

What surprised me about the Forbes list, is the lack of a narrative, so here is my take on this list.

Heads of State

13% of the women on this list are running their respective countries. Angela Merkel (1) tops the list as the Chancellor of Germany. These women also run the UK, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Norway, Croatia, Lithuania, Estonia, Chile, and Serbia.

Sitting in the C-Suite

56% of the women on this list have seats in the C-Suite (with 28% holding the title CEO). 36% represent US companies, of which 50% are Fortune500 companies (36% are Fortune 100).

Shattering the Glass Ceiling

  • Adena Friedman (16) is the first woman to lead a major US stock exchange - the NASDAQ.
  • Emma Walmsey (18) is the first woman to run a major pharma company (Glaxo Smith Klein).
  • Stacey Cunninghan (27) is the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
  • Rosalind Brewer (34) is the first woman and African American to serve as the COO of Starbucks.
  • Katherine Viner (66) is the first female Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian.
  • Ana Brnabic (91) is the first female and openly gay Prime Minister (Serbia).
  • Aileen Lee (93) is the Founder and Partner of Cowboy Ventures - one of the first venture capital firms founded by women. 

Advocating for Others

  • Ruth Porat (21), CFO of Alphabet (parent of Google) participated in Google Walkout for Real Change.
  • Michelle Bachett (85) is the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations and is the first woman President of Chile.
  • Beth Brook Marciniak (100) was named 2018 Global Advocate of the Year by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.


  • Adena Friedman (16) is introducing Bit Coin to the Futures trading platform at NASDAQ in 2019.
  • Anne Wojcicki (92) is the co-founder and CEO of 23 and Me - a pioneering direct to consumer DNA testing company.

Major Contributors

  • Tricia Griffith (54), since she became President & CEO of Progressive, the stock price has risen 54%.
  • Zanny Minton Beddos (70) is the first female Editor-in-Chief of The Economist and under her direction, subscriptions increased 20% last year.
  • Kathleen Kennedy (71) is the President of Lucas Films and produced 4 Star Wars films, which grossed $4.85 billion worldwide for the company.
  • Meg Whitman (80), while heading EBay, took the company from 5.7 million in sales to $8 billion. She is currently the CEO of Quibi.
  • Jenny Lee (87), the managing partner of GGV Capital, led one of the largest capital raises for a venture capital firm in 2018.

These women are change-makers, paving pathways for other women to follow. They are continually demonstrating women not just belong at the table, but when they do sit at the table, they achieve great success for their companies, for others, and for themselves. But let's not forget about the millions of women who did not make the list who are also change-makers - both big and small. 

If you are a young woman, just starting your career, or one in mid-career, only you can define what success means to you. For some of you, that may be owning your own business, for others of you it means service, and for some still it is a path to the C-Suite. Regardless of your trajectory, we should applaud their hard work and dedication and look to their journey for inspiration. 


Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head of Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University

Source: Forbes List of Most Powerful Women

Posted in leadership-management-skills, innovation-workplace