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5 Female CEOs that are Inspiring Other Women

Updated on December 10, 2010
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Hala ModdelmogJulie GilbertLinda HeasleyKaren B. PeetzAnn Sherry
Hala Moddelmog
Hala Moddelmog
Julie Gilbert
Julie Gilbert
Linda Heasley
Linda Heasley
Karen B. Peetz
Karen B. Peetz
Ann Sherry
Ann Sherry

I’ve been busy going through the back issues of magazines that I’ve been hanging on to for way too long. One of the magazines that I came across was the second quarter issue of Pink from this year. For those who don’t know, Pink is a really great magazine for women who are interested in business an entrepreneurship. This particular issue had a great cover article in which Pink named The Top 15 Women in Business in 2009.

The article inspired me to do my own additional research into five women CEOs that were included on their list. All of these women are really inspiring. Here’s a little bit more information about them (although I would encourage you to check out their websites as well as to check out the full article on all fifteen women put out by Pink.)

1. Hala Moddelmog, female CEO and President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This is one of the most famous fundraising organizations in existence. It’s a cause that’s particularly important for women since it raises money to fight breast cancer. It’s no surprise that a woman director is behind its success, is it? Moddelmog’s background is actually in arts and journalism but she herself is a breast cancer survivor who wanted to help others in the same position as her. Her success shows that it doesn’t matter what your degree is in as long as you know what your passion is! Although the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization is what she’s most well-known for, she’s also helped women in another way. She previously worked in a leadership role for Church’s Chicken and as a result of her work nearly one in five Church’s Chicken franchises are now owned by women.

2. Julie Gilbert, female CEO and Founder of WOLF Means Business. WOLF is an acronym that stands for “Women’s Leadership Forum” which sums about what WOLF Means Business is all about. Basically, its goal is to assist existing businesses with restructuring the work place so that it is friendlier towards women. Using many different types of practices, WOLF Means Business turns a business into a place where women want to work and a place where they can be leaders in their work. The business is most famous for transforming Best Buy into a business that’s truly woman-focused which isn’t common to hear about in businesses in the tech industry. The founder and female CEO of this really cool business is Julie Gilbert. In addition to founding this company, she has a long history of work with other businesses and also serves as a motivational speaker to inspire other women to be innovative and involved with business growth. She's definitely one of the most inspiring female directors in business today.

3. Linda Heasley, female CEO and Chairman of The Limited. The Limited is a clothing store that a lot of women are probably familiar with. They’re probably not nearly as familiar with the female director heading the store but perhaps they should be. That’s because she really helped the business to stay on its feet and even grow during a time when it wasn’t doing so well at all. She brought a fresh attitude to the company which is really what created this change. We could probably all use a fresh attitude when it comes to our work so learning more about a woman like this is beneficial for all of us! She also embodies a business practice which is common among women which is to be customer-driven. Women are naturally good at building relationships and that’s something that a business needs to excel at!

4. Karen B. Peetz, female CEO of Financial Markets and Treasury Services at the Bank of New York Mellon. This female director is an example of someone who works for a really large company and who manages to stand out within that company. I’m always impressed by female leaders in the world of finance since it’s an area that I think women are naturally good at but don’t necessarily stand out in most of the time. (How many women do you know who are great at managing their family’s finances but who never get noticed for it?!)

5. Ann Sherry, female CEO of Carnival Australia. I may be impressed with women in finance but I’m truly envious of women who are working in the travel industry. Ann Sherry is the CEO of the largest cruise ship operator in Australia so she definitely makes the list of women to be envied! She’s actually held some other interesting positions in the past, though. For example, she was the first assistant secretary of the Office of the Status of Women which means that she advised the prime minister of Australia on women’s issues. She was also the first female CEO of the Bank of Melbourne. So she’s been a great leader for a lot of places and it’s just continuing with this cool position for Carnival Australia.

These female directors all interest me for the same basic reason: they have all become CEOs of a major organization. However, they seem to all have some other things in common that make them interesting to study as a women who is interested in business. For example, they’re all relatively young, vibrant and willing to bring a fresh perspective to their jobs. I think we should all be approaching our work with an innovative attitude and they seem to be stellar examples of how that can turn into success. Also, they all have an interesting work history which has taken them to where they are today (and not always on a traditional path) which I think is important because it reflects the fact that every step we take in life will help us to get to where we’re going.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    There's always an opening to find if you're willing to look. Find the companies who show clear respect in the workplace. I look forward to seeing more women at the top as our society continues to progress.

  • Mitch King profile image

    Mitch King 

    9 years ago from Wilsoville, OR, USA

    These are some powerful women who have shown that you do not have to follow the typical male CEO profile to succeed. You can create your own niche.


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