A Few Tech Highlights From Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women List
– plus one bonus not on the list!
The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, and we at Mobiz love any excuse to celebrate the achievements of women in the tech world today. Here are of some of our favourite women featured on the Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women List who are contributing to a brighter future through technology (and we also added a bonus at the end featuring a woman changing the future of tech in Africa).
Note: Though each of these women are beautiful inside and out, we feel that their achievements and words are much more important than their headshots, which is why we have included quotes instead of pictures in the article below. here we go….!
Melinda Gates – Philanthropist and Industry Leader
Bio: Melinda Gates was born in Dallas, Texas; she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at Duke University in 1986, and got her MBA the following year. She took a job at Microsoft Corporation in 1987 and married her boss, Bill Gates, in 1994. That year, she and her husband co-founded what was later to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2006 she restructured the organisation. In 2012 she pledged $560 million toward improving access to contraception for women in poor countries.
Why She Rocks: Though technically Forbes places her in the “Philanthropy/NGO” category, we think she belongs at the top of our list for women in technology, not only because she got her start in the field of computer science (hello Microsoft), but the mission of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues to include “access to digital information via public libraries” as one of their main priorities. The Foundation also believes strongly in delivering the latest science and technology to those with the greatest needs. Overall, Melinda has positively contributed to the industry in countless ways, she is a true role model to anyone who wants to make the world a better place.
Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook and Founder of Lean In
Bio: Sandberg started her career in the tech industry working for Google, spending 6 years as a Vice President, and later being recruited as Facebook’s first COO in 2008. Since then, she has been an outspoken advocate for women in the business world, publishing her famous book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” in 2013, in which she provides her insights and solutions to the glass ceiling.
Why She Rocks: What self-respecting list of current influential women in the world would not include a tribute to the author of “Lean In” Sheryl Sandberg? Her book was not just empty words and promises either, she launched the Lean In non-profit along with the book, and since then has inspired positive change across the globe. You can check out the Lean In movement here (and we strongly recommend that you do): https://leanin.org/
Susan Wojcicki – CEO of Youtube
Bio: Susan was Google’s 16th employee, hired in 1999, she started as the search firm’s first marketing manager and later heading all marketing and commerce. Wojcicki first became involved with video sharing in connection with the launch of Google Video in 2005. The following year she oversaw the purchase of rival YouTube, an equally new venture that was enjoying greater success. She was later promoted to CEO of Youtube and has held the position since February 2014; winning!
Why She Rocks: Susan openly supports paid parental leave to encourage women to work. Before going on her 5th maternity leave in 2014, Susan wrote an op-ed featured in the Wall Street Journal explaining the significance of paid maternity leave. Susan is a role model to many professional working women because she not only advocates for, but also lives a great work-life balance herself.
Ginni Rometty – CEO of IBM
Bio: According to IBM, Ginni Rometty holds a Bachelor of Science Degree, with high honours, in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University. She began her career with IBM in 1981 in Detroit. Since then she has held a series of leadership positions, most recently as senior vice president and group executive of IBM sales, marketing, and strategy. She is currently Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM- no big deal.
Why She Rocks: According to Forbes, after 21 consecutive quarters of declining revenue growth, the 36-year veteran of the iconic tech company, has been heralding IBM’s transition into a data company, pushing its cloud and analytics products to counteract a decline in demand for legacy software products. Rometty continues to push the boundaries of the tech frontier, and we can’t wait to see where she takes the company next.
Meg Whitman – Famous for eBay, Former CEO of HP
Bio: According to Variety, Whitman is a seasoned Silicon Valley mogul, with more than three decades of experience leading huge brands including Hewlett Packard and eBay. Since taking the top job at HP in 2011, she oversaw the split of the hardware giant into two separate companies.
Why She Rocks: We are inspired by Whitman’s fearlessness and perseverance in the tech industry. She most recently stepped down from her position at HP, but is now exploring many new projects and start-ups; one particularly promising venture she’s interested in is a mobile content start-up, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!
Angela Ahrendts – SVP Retail at Apple
Bio: According to Apple, Angela joined the company from Burberry where she served as CEO and led the company through a period of outstanding global growth. Prior to Burberry, she was Executive Vice President at Liz Claiborne Inc., and earlier in her career served as President of Donna Karan International. She is currently Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail, reporting to CEO Tim Cook.
Why She Rocks: In interviews, Ahrendts admits that she fought some internal battles about appearing ‘too emotional’ in the workplace, and ultimately decided to go against the advice she was receiving, and chose to be her true authentic self rather than give in to expectations and pressure from other people. And it paid off wonderfully for her, shortly after her decision to be herself, she was offered a CEO position. Ahrendts is living proof that there is no standard ‘CEO material’, and that being authentic and true to yourself is rewarding both personally and in the work environment.
Safra Catz – Co-CEO of Oracle
Bio: Catz was born in Israel and moved to the United States when she was 6 years old. She started working at Oracle in 1999 when she joined as a senior vice president. Catz took the step up to the co-CEO role at Oracle at the end of 2014 when founder Larry Ellison moved aside to become CTO. She now shares responsibilities for leading strategy at one of the world’s largest tech firms alongside former HP CEO Mark Hurd.
Why She Rocks: Safra has long been a supporter of education, particularly in the technology sector, where she wants to help “raise the bar” for children learning STEM subjects. She also has voiced her support of promoting women into more leading roles, and emphasises the priceless value women bring to the table.
Isabelle Kocher – CEO of Engie
Bio: Isabelle is currently CEO of Engie, one of Europe’s biggest power companies. An engineer and physicist by training, Kocher worked in several energy companies before being offered the position of CEO at Engie. Though Forbes places her in the “Energy” category, we think she belongs on our list because she is dedicated to reducing carbon emissions through the use of new technologies.
Why She Rocks: Since Ms. Kocher assumed the top job at Engie in May 2016, she has fought hard to restructure the company in the face of climate change. Kocher stated that as a world leading energy player, Engie had to “take its responsibility” against climate change and consider it not as a threat, but as a lever for radical change. She believes the sector must face a revolution in order to meet the challenge and move towards a world that is decarbonised, partly decentralised, and digitalised- and where energy is available to all, including developing countries. For these and many other reasons, we think Kocher is simply amazing and a great role model, not just for women, but for anyone trying to fight for positive change in their industry.
Ruth Porat – SVP and CFO Google, Alphabet
Bio: Porat has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics & International Relations from Stanford University, and holds a Master of Science Degree in Industrial Relations from London School of Economics and an MBA with distinction from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; so she knows things. She began her career at Morgan Stanley, continuing to work through the financial crisis, and becoming their CFO in 2010. In 2015 it was announced that she would join Google as their new CFO, where she is credited with imposing much-needed financial discipline to the company.
Why She Rocks: Ruth Porat is known for being tough and persevering through very trying circumstances. She is a two-time survivor of breast cancer, and throughout her career has been very outspoken about the particular challenges that women face at work. Like Sheryl Sandberg, she also believes in having “sponsors”, people who will help you develop and advance your career, but she also has different views on some of the topics Sandberg has brought to light. Though they many not agree on everything, we think having numerous voices in the glass ceiling debate is critical to tackling the problem since no two people (or companies) are the same.
Lucy Peng – CEO, Ant Financial Services, Alibaba Group
Bio: Peng started as an economics teacher, and then she decided to join a little-known start-up called the Alibaba Group (Alibaba is now one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world). Her first job in Alibaba was working as the vice president of human resources, where she managed a team of 20, 000 employees. She worked her way up in the company and was eventually appointed as the CEO of Ant Financial Services (the online finance arm of Alibaba). Even though she keeps a low profile, she is one of the most influential individuals in the digital world.
Why She Rocks: Though she has been relatively quiet in the public sphere, Lucy Peng (AKA Peng Lei) is an inspiration to women everywhere for her incredible success in a male-dominated industry. Admired for her ‘humility and passion’, she is known for her friendly nature and passion for connecting with people, and she considered her coworkers to be part of the Alibaba ‘family’, which explains why she was so successful managing so many employees. Being one of 21 self made billionaires in China, Peng is a true success story.
Bonus Feature – South African Women in Tech:
As a bonus, we would like to feature a woman who is changing the tech industry one young woman at a time. She is Baratang Miya, CEO of GirlHype- Women Who Code, a not-for-profit that provides programming and app development training for girls and young women in Africa.
Bio: A mother of 3 and a self-taught coder, she has been sharing her skills and experiences with women and girls through her leadership of Mozilla Clubs and her own organisation. As a Regional Coordinator, she oversees execution of 5 clubs in Cape Town, South Africa. Her success has been amplified by her keen awareness of the challenges of making Mozilla programs and content relevant to people with little access — as in those living in the townships in and around Cape Town. Although she focuses on getting women into STEM, she understands that this is about building women’s self efficacy and confidence, to work in tech or beyond.
Why She Rocks: Baratang is helping the next generation of young African women bridge the STEM gender gap by empowering them through education. She is helping to break the barriers that many young women face when trying to enter the tech industry, and she is also helping her students to have the skills and confidence to reach higher and achieve their goals. By teaching young women like herself, she not only serves as a role model, but relates with her students on a personal level and can cater her training to their unique needs and challenges.
We look forward to seeing a future with more women boldly entering the tech industry, and hope one day to see one of GirlHype’s students make the top of the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women list.
If you would like to get involved in GirlHype or want to donate to their cause, please visit their website: http://girlhype.co.za/
A big thank you to all of our sources:
- Forbes Profiles (Sheryl Sandberg)
- Computer World UK
- Forbes Profiles
- Brittanica Biographies
- Forbes Profiles (Safra Catz)
- NY Times
- Business Insider
- Forbes Profiles (Lucy Peng)
- successstory.com (peng li)
- Story Engine