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Competent leadership professionals are a principal aspect for the growth and development of any business environment. However, in a continuously changing landscape, one that takes a global focus with great digital necessity and constant socio-political shifts, current business leaders must learn how to become agile and resilient to tackle rising challenges

In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day quickly approaching, we have compiled a list of some of the most influential women in leadership today, who are making a great impact in their industries, while also empowering and championing for employees around the world.

1) Rosalind Brewer: CEO Walgreens Boots Alliance

Before joining Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. in March of 2021 as Chief Executive Office, Rosalind Brewer served as the first black and female Chief Operating Officer and Group President of Starbucks from October of 2017 to January of 2021. She boasts an impressive resume having also served on the board of directors for numerous international businesses including Starbucks, Amazon, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Molson Coors Brewing Company, and as of 2 years ago, Walgreens Boots Alliance. 

Brewer has been, and remains to be very vocal regarding the importance of leaders taking action on diversity, equity and inclusion. During a 2020 TED Talk, in the wake of the George Floyd killing, she suggested that without inclusions, diversity effort will inevitably fall flat, saying:

"I think we have spent more time trying to reach numbers than we have changing our environment where people feel safe, where they feel they can come to work and be their whole self, give it everything they've got, be their natural self and be respected for it and applauded for it".

Throughout the time she served at the world-famous café chain Starbucks, Brewer helped lead diversity initiatives, incorporating racial bias training, ultimately tying executive pay to diversity targets.

Along with that, Rosalind Brewer ranks 7th on the Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business 2022, while holding the 13th position for Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2022 list. It comes therefore as no surprise as to why Brewer is included in this list.

2) Rebecca Glashow: CEO, Global Distribution BBC Studios

Ever since joining BBC Studios in March of 2022, Rebecca Glashow successfully recruited a senior leadership team of talented female leaders in key roles, which in turn helped grow BBC Studio’s commercial business worldwide. Not only that, but she has also been at the forefront of creating and advocating for BBC Studio’s flexible work environment, allowing employers to find balance in their lives, between their professional and personal lives. 

While having previously served on the board of WICT, and organisation dedicated to helping women in media, entertainment and technology advance and grow their careers, Glashow is currently a member of the Women's Forum of New York, a global network of female leaders constituting the highest level of professional achievement across all sectors and industries in New York City. The network was originally created by civil leader and philanthropist Elinor Guggenheimer in 1974, with a goal to “bring together women of diverse accomplishments and provide them with a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences”.

Additionally, Rebecca Glashow is the global executive sponsor of BBC Studio’s Pride network, an employee group with the aim of providing support, guidance and a community to LGBTQ+ team members and allies, championing inclusiveness. 

3) Serpil Timuray: CEO Europe Cluster and Member of Group Executive Committee Vodafone Group PLC

Having chaired Vodafone’s global Inclusion for All Committee since 2014, Serpil Timuray brought significant contributions to the telecommunications and tech industry, leading a pioneering agenda which pushed for improved diversity and inclusion. Ever since joining Vodafone, Timuray has championed the development of apps and services aiming to support women such as a domestic abuse app, in the markets where Vodafone operates. 

Not only that, but in March of 2020, Serpil Timuray has led the launch of Vodafone’s #ChangeTheFace initiative, a call for action following ground-breaking research which found significant lack for racial, gender, age diversity within the tech industry. According to Serpil Timuray herself:

“For the technology sector to reach its full potential, it must strive to more fairly reflect the world in which we operate.”

Therefore, the research involved Vodafone asking around 7,000 people from 9 different markets in which Vodafone operates the question, “if technology was a person, what would they be?”, to which most participants replied “young, white and middle-class”. In turn this then led to the formation of the #ChangeTheFace alliance with Vodafone inviting leading tech companies across the world to pledge their support, some of which include Deloitte, Ericsson, Facebook, IBM, Nokia, PWC and Samsung. 

Timuray’s contributions towards the acceleration of diversity and equality in the technology sector did not go unrecognised. In February of 2022 she received the Diversity in Tech Outstanding Achievement Award at the Global Mobile (GLOMO) Awards. 

4) Mary Barra: CEO General Motors

There is something impressive and refreshing seeing female leaders in male-dominated industries. That is the case for Mary Barra, the first female Chief Executive Office for General Motors, and perhaps the first ever for a major automobile company in the USA.

Barra joined General Motors in January of 2014 and has been piloting for General Motors’ transition to electric vehicles by 2035 ever since, with GM stating that:

“Under Barra’s leadership, GM envisions a world with zero crashes, to save lives; zero emissions, so future generations can inherit a healthier planet; and zero congestion, so customers get back a precious commodity – time”.

Moreover, aside from Barra’s environmental contributions in line with her work, General Motors has also consistently scored highly in gender equity reports since she took over the wheel. As a result of that, in 2018 GM was one out of two global businesses to have no gender pay gap.

It is hardly surprising that Mary Barra made Fortune’s 2022 Most Powerful Women and Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World in 2022 lists, ranking 4th in both. 

5) Bina Mehta MBA: Chair KPMG UK

Appointed in 2021, Bina Mehta is KPMG UK’s first female Chair in the company’s 150-year history, while also chairing the firm’s Inclusive Leadership Board, a forum where independent experts can provide challenges to ensure the firm is embedding inclusion, diversity and equity within the business strategy correctly.

Mehta has been advocating for the power collective action holds in driving change across government, business and community. Having said that, she also recognises the importance of an inclusive culture in achieving sustainable growth and equity. Sure enough, under Mehta’s leadership, KPMG became the 1st organisation to publish socio-economic background pay gaps and targets. 

Nonetheless, her achievements do not just end there, having gained personal recognition for her contributions to the industry. In 2022, Bina Mehta won the Hammer Award at the 2022 GG2 Leadership & Diversity Awards, awarded to individuals who managed to break through the glass ceiling. And if that was not enough, the KPMG Chair was also awarded an MBE in 2022 in he New Year’s Honours list for her services to trade and investment in the UK, as well as for supporting female entrepreneurs. 

This list, although concise, serves as proof that there are in fact many influential and powerful women, from diverse backgrounds and varying industry sectors, in leadership positions. However, not only do women exist in these positions, but they have proven to be resilient in their pursuit of organisational change, while giving a voice to the voiceless. 


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