“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
I subscribed to Fortune Magazine in 1998. Being a woman in business, I keenly and closely watched the Most Powerful Women (MPW) list. I diligently read success stories and any relevant advice for women in business that I could get my hands on. The recent list just blew me away! Women are having a stronger impact on our world than ever before. Women are increasingly visible as corporate leaders, particularly in executive positions. We are working in more industries and more control over the trajectory of our careers. Just as recently as 2009, the women ranking in the “Worlds Most Influential People” list were few and far between, topped by Angela Merkel (#15) and Hilary Clinton (#17), both career politicians. Last year saw seven women making the list: Angela Merkel at #5; Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve at #6; Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, at #31; Park Guen-Hye, President of South Korea at #46.
The original 1998 list of MPW mostly included members that came from industries with a premium on creativity: advertising, media, and entertainment. The most recent list features a more diverse range of leaders: Mary Barra (CEO of GM), Indira Nooyi (CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo), Ginny Rometty (CEO, Chairman and President of IBM), Marillyn Hewson (CEO, Chairman & President of Lockheed Martin), Ellen Kullman (CEO& Chairman of DuPont) top the list. Then, of course, our heavy hitters: Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde, Janet Yellen, and Hilary Clinton.
Amidst the recent domestic violence scandals plaguing NFL athletes, the league thought it best to hire females to the staff managing these scandals, hoping to save the reputation of the family-oriented sports organization. These women are absolute rule breakers, shattering stereotypes and in many cases pioneers; they lead not only in business but also help redefine women's roles in the industry. They empower the younger generation of women to step up.
I remember starting out in the diamond industry. I was totally isolated in an industry that was predominantly owned and run by Orthodox Jews. I remember waiting, all nerves, at a door of an elevator. When the doors opened and I saw the blank stares from the chauvinistic men in attendance, I knew I couldn't get in. They thrived on their rules and women were absolutely not part of their game. Perhaps if I were to concede to a role of a secretary…otherwise, this was a boys’ only club.
Looking back I want to give some advice to all women who are just starting their professional careers: