The Most Powerful Women You May Not Know of

Powerful and influential

Oprah Winfrey, the Queen of England, Michelle Obama. We know who they are… or at least you should! But here are a handful of women—also extraordinary and powerful—who may have escaped your notice until now. They are leaders in their fields and exercise major influence over the world around you. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Indra Nooyi

She recently made the #1 most powerful woman on Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women in Business” list. Who is she? Nooyi is chairwoman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo (Stock Quote: PEP). If you have ever snacked on some delicious greasy Frito-Lay potato chips, chugged a glass of Tropicana orange juice, or relaxed with a can of Pepsi, then you already know Nooyi in a sense. This 53-year-old businesswoman was also #1 on the same Fortune list last year. Photo Credit: World Economic Forum


Carol Bartz

Clocking in at #8 on Fortune’s list of ultra-powerful females, Bartz has been chief executive officer at Yahoo! (Stock Quote: YHOO) for six months. How’s she doing there? Too early to tell, perhaps, but The New York Times Bits blog notes that Yahoo! search traffic share is at its “lowest level ever” according to one analyst. Rival Bing, the new search engine from Microsoft (Stock Quote: MSFT), is up to 10.3% of search traffic share, representing “a two-year high” for the company. Photo Credit: Yodel Anecdotal


Lynn Elsenhans

Elsenhans is chief executive officer of petrochemical company Sunoco. She’s #10 on Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women.” Random fact about this petroleum titan? She played college basketball at Rice University and remains a big sports fan. Sunoco traces its corporate roots to 1886, when the company’s initial partners paid $4,500 for two oil leases in Ohio. Photo Credit: Sunoco


Ursula Burns

Burns, #14 on the Forbes list, is chief executive officer of Xerox Corp. (Stock Quote: XRX) and is reportedly “the first black woman to head a major public company.” Burns’ leadership has helped “cut Xerox’s workforce by nearly 40%.” Good news — unless you are one of the people who was cut, I suppose. Photo Credit: Xerox


Safra Catz

Catz is #16 on the Forbes list and is President of Oracle Corp. (Stock Quote: ORCL), a business software and database systems leader. How is the company doing? “With more than 50 acquisitions since 2005, Oracle is of that rare breed of Silicon Valley company that has weathered recent economic crises with poise and profit.” Photo Credit: Oracle


Sheila Bair

As head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., you can thank Bair for the security of your bank account balance. FDIC-insured products typically include checking and savings accounts: You can find out if your bank is insured by the agency here. Bair is #1 on Huffington Post’s list of powerful women. Photo Credit: FDIC


Marjorie Scardino

Scardino is CEO of publishing giant Pearson Plc., which owns publishing house Penguin Group and the Financial Times. She has a background in law, and is a member of several advisory and charitable boards. Photo Credit: Pearson Plc.


Janet Robinson

Here’s another publishing titan. Robinson is chief executive officer of The New York Times Co. (Stock Quote: NYT) and made #49 on the Forbes list of powerful women. She certainly faces many challenges at her company. Buyouts for many Times staffers recently occurred, and layoffs at the company are reportedly underway this week. Photo Credit: New York Times Co.


Anne Sweeney

Sweeney is #52 on the Forbes list, and is co-chairwoman of Disney Media Networks. You may not know who she is, but her influence over the mainstream popular culture is pretty significant: “If you like Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives or Dancing with the Stars, you have Anne Sweeney to thank. Sweeney, who heads Disney’s TV operations, is also responsible for smash-hit tween idols Miley Cyrus (‘Hannah Montana’) and the Jonas Brothers.” Sounds like she knows what she is doing, with the exception of promoting the Jonas Brothers to stardom. No executive’s career is without flaw, I suppose. Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Co.


Heidi Miller

Miller made the top of US Banker magazine’s roundup of the 25 most powerful women in the banking industry. She is chief executive officer of Treasury and Securities Services at JPMorgan Chase (Stock Quote: JPM). The magazine reportedly ranked the female executives on its list according to factors such as “one-year performance, the results of business initiatives, management style and overall influence.” Photo Credit: JP Morgan Chase


Julie Monaco

Monaco was ranked #14 on US Banker’s list. She is head of Citigroup's (Stock Quote: C) Global Transaction Services in North America. She has reportedly made a "number of moves to tap underserved customers and spur healthy growth of her line of business" since taking the position. Interesting: check out our story on the gender gap that remains in the workplace. Photo Credit: Citigroup


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