Top Female CEOs: The 15 Leading Women of Business in 2018

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Contrary to what Beyoncé says, women sadly do not run the world.

In fact, only 11.8% of CEOs in Asia and Australia are women, and that number significantly decreases to 7.8% in Europe and the US. Surprisingly, India is in the lead with 12.9% female CEOs – which, of course, isn’t quite the equality we’ve been hoping for.

This not only shows that female entrepreneurs aren’t given the same opportunities as their male counterparts but also that the gender pay gap is as much of an issue as ever before, even in the 21st Century.

Still, these powerful women should be celebrated for what they’ve achieved and what they’re continuing to achieve – and those of us who are pursuing entrepreneurial success would do well to take a page or two out of their books.

Here are the top 15 female CEOs making history in the world of business in 2018.



15. Michele Buck

Michele BuckCNBC

Company: Hershey’s

Age: 56

Worth: $7.8 million (£6 million)

Michele Buck grew to C-level status after having showcased her talent for 12 years at Hershey’s. It wasn’t until former CEO John Bilbrey stepped down that Michele really got her chance to shine. She was responsible for leading the company through a number of tactical acquisitions outside its traditional confectionary product, including the purchase of Krave Jerky. She plans to continue to push herself out of her comfort zone and make a real impact on the Hershey’s family.


14. Phebe Novakovic

Phebe NovakovicWashington Business Journal

Company: General Dynamics

Age: 61

Worth: N/A

Phebe Novakovic was inspired by her father’s story to aim for success. At the age of 17, he immigrated from Serbia to the US with just $50 in his back pocket – he went on to land a job in the US Air Force, despite not speaking a word of English. Phebe now heads General Dynamics, one of the largest defence contractors in the world. Under her reign, General Dynamics’ stock has grown by about 100% – and she’s got plenty more tricks up her sleeve!


13. Cathy Engelbert

Cathy EngelbertFortune

Company: Deloitte

Age: 53

Worth: N/A

Cathy Engelbert joined the Deloitte family when she was just 17 years old, but almost threw in the towel when she fell pregnant with her first child. Luckily, her mentors William G Parrett and William Ehrhardt, then senior partners in New York, stepped in and convinced her otherwise. She spent the next 30 years in various roles across the company and in 2015 was appointed CEO of Deloitte – effectively becoming the first female US CEO of a Big Four firm and inspiring hundreds of women to advance their own careers in the process.


12. Abigail Johnson

Abigail JohnsonFortune

Company: Fidelity Investments

Age: 38

Worth: $16.5 million (£12.7 million)

Abigal’s rise to the top, unlike the rest, was hereditary. After growing up in the world of finance, it was only logical that she followed in her father Edward Johnson III’s footsteps and took reign when he decided to retire after working for six decades. She took control of Fidelity Investments in 2004, and in 2017 was ranked the seventh most powerful woman in finance.


11. Ursula Burns

Ursula BurnsXerox

Company:  Xerox

Age: 59

Worth: $18.7 million (£14.4 million)

Hailing from an ethnic background and a poor area in the lower-east side of Manhattan, many doubted Ursula’s odds of succeeding in a business-related career. But thanks to her mother’s boosting words, Ursula broke out of the norm and pursued an education in engineering.

During her studies in New York, she managed to complete an internship at Xerox, and later returned as a junior after her graduate degree. Through the years she climbed to the top, reigning as the first black female CEO to be listed on the Fortune 500 list between 2009 and 2016 before serving as a chairman in 2016-2017.



10. Marillyn Hewson

Marillyn HewsonPacific Business News

Company: Lockheed Martin

Age: 64

Worth: $20.1 million (£15.5 million)

Marillyn Hewson is another prime example of working hard to climb up the career ladder; with over 35 years’ experience in various managerial roles at Lockheed, she was appointed as their CEO in 2018.

She doesn’t just focus on the improvement of the technology industry, but also spends funds on matters that are close to her heart. She recently donated $5 million (£3.8 million) to build a cybersecurity lab at the University of Alabama, so other young women can have the opportunity to gain C-Level positions, too.


9. Irene Rosenfeld

Irene RosenfeldFortune

Company: Kraft Foods

Age: 65

Worth: $21 million (£16.2 million)

As the CEO of the world’s second-largest food company, Irene Rosenfeld has been leading Kraft Foods for decades. She made an outstanding contribution by emphasising healthy products and, after a successful campaign, was appointed CEO in 2006. Under her reign, she’s changed the snack aisle for good, adding a number of healthy alternatives into the mix. She also oversaw the takeover of iconic British confectionery brand Cadbury’s, which is a milestone in itself.


8. Lynn Good

Lynn GoodCharlotte Business Journal

Company: Duke Energy

Age: N/A

Worth: $21.4 million (£16.5 million)

Lynn Good is the current president and CEO of Duke Energy. She climbed to the position after having worked her way up the ranks in the corporate world since 2003. Under her leadership, Duke Energy has strengthened its focus on serving its customers and communities, leading the way to a smarter, cheaper and cleaner energy future. Over the past decade, they’ve focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 31%.


7. Mary T Barra

Mary T BarraNational Review

Company: General Motors

Age: 56

Worth: $22.4 million (£17.2 million)

Mary T Barra is another female entrepreneur that has worked her way up the ranks of business. At the age of 19, she joined General Motors as a senior engineer at a Pontiac Fiero plant, after partaking in their college programme for six months. She worked in every position possible in order to relate to every single employee and learn all there is to know about the business. Her great values, techniques and communication skills have led General Motors to success.


6. Ginni Rometty

Ginni RomettyComputer Business Review

Company: IBM

Age: 60

Worth: $32.7 million (£25.2 million)

Rommetty, the driving force behind IBM’s success also has a similar story to the other female bosses on this list. She too spent years working in various leadership roles before she climbed the ranks after 30 years of service.

During this time, she achieved many significant accomplishments, including IBM's 2002 acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, as well as receiving the 2017 KPMG Inspire Greatness Award ‘for her role as a pioneer in technology, and for her ongoing commitment to empower and elevate the next generation of women’.



5. Mary Dillon

Mary DillonFortune

Company: Ulta Beauty

Age: 57

Worth: $70 million (£54 million)

Mary Dillon has the brains and the beauty. After working in a number of industries from food to technology, she found her true calling with Ulta Beauty in June 2013. She quickly noticed that the beauty brand had some cracks in their mirror, and focused on marketing the brand and turning into a luxury experience. She has refined their loyalty programme, launched an Ulta Beauty credit card and opened thousands of stores under her reign, making the brand a true staple in a pool of very large competitors.


4. Indra Nooyi

Indra NooyiForbes

Company: PepsiCo

Age: 62

Worth: $144 million (£111.1 million)

Indra Nooyi has worked her way to the top of PepsiCo, one of the most popular beverage brands in the industry. However, her leadership role hasn’t been easy; after the backlash on an advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, it’s been a struggle for Pepsi to maintain its status as a household name.

What Nooyi has smartly done, though, is focus attention on creating healthy and organic products, shifting the light from any negativity. This year the company created organic Doritos which has been stocked in healthy food stores and also reduced the amount of carbon found in the popular fizzy drinks.


3. Safra Catz

Safra CatzThe Wall Street Journal

Company: Oracle

Age: 56

Worth: $510 million (£393.5 million)

Safra Cruz shares her C-level status with co-CEO Mark Hard, though remains one of the highest paid women in the corporate world. She began her journey with Oracle in 1999 when she joined as Vice President. Since then, she’s been credited for leading Oracle's acquisition strategy and has helped close more than 100 acquisitions. Catz has a reputation for translating her boss’s ideas and ambition into a reality which is far beyond the scope of most deputies.


2. Marissa Mayer

Marissa MayerCetking

Company: Lumi Labs

Age: 43

Worth: $540 million (£416.6 million)

Marissa Mayer has been a staple in the technology industry for years. After a 13-year stint at Google, she left to become CEO of Yahoo! but stepped down after the Verizon takeover. Since then, she has been working on a top-secret business model: Lumi Labs. Her new business is focused on building consumer applications with artificial intelligence.


1. Lynsi Snyder

Lynsi SnyderTime

Company: In-n-Out Burger

Worth: $1.2 billion (£925.9 million)

Age: 36

Snyder is currently the youngest billionaire in the world. The heiress of the popular fast-food chain has taken the business to new heights – making it one of the best places to work in the US. She has formed a real company culture and invests time in her staff members by arranging trips, days out, company perks and decent wages. She encourages them to learn and grow within the organisation, making them feel satisfied in their position and choice of employer.



What we can take away from the role models on this list is that with a little hard work, some clearly set career goals and a lot of dedication to the business, you too can move around until you find what you’re truly destined to do!

Which female boss is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below.