The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the leading decision-maker in a company. This position is highly revered because this officer is the face and personality of the company. They are covered by the media and they receive accolades on behalf of the company. Since the CEO is the leader, they get the best compensation and benefits. They also occupy the corner office and enjoy comforts such as lots of space, an amazing view and even a private elevator. They have the most power as well. They have the ability to give the final word on company matters such as investment or expansion. In many companies, the CEO has the power to veto executive decisions. Despite this position being dominated by men, there are some female CEOs who do a great job in leading their companies. Here are 8 most influential female CEOs and how they started.

Irene Rosenfeld

Irene is the CEO of Kraft Foods. She is also its honorary chairman. Her company is the second largest food production and distribution company in the world. She began by leading a much smaller company known as Frito-Lay. In this small company that is also in the food and beverage industry, Irene helped to create a product line that featured healthy foods and inspired curated diets for her consumers. This approach made Frito-Lay succeed. Due to her success, in 2006 she was picked and appointed the CEO of Kraft Foods. One of the major accomplishments that she has achieved in Kraft Foods is the purchase of Cadbury for more than £10 billion.

Carol Meyrowitz

Currently the CEO and president of TJX group of companies, she is also one of the most influential female CEOs today. Her expertise is in the retail sector. Her group of companies is worth a combined $21 billion. She started out at the very bottom of the corporate ladder while working as an assistant buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue. With grit and determination, Carol climbed up the ranks and in 2007 she became the top shot-caller in the TJX companies. Today, she helps to provide affordable shopping items for regular shoppers at Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Marshall's.

Indra Nooyi

At PepsiCo, the CEO and Chairperson is Indra Nooyi. Working in the food and beverage industry, Indra is the captain of the PepsiCo ship. In 1994, she joined the company as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). 7 years later, she was named the president of the company and in 2007, she was named its CEO. One of her main achievements is to make PepsiCo have a greater market value than Coca Cola. Thanks to her strategy of restructuring the company, PepsiCo has gained a bigger market value than its main rival, Coca Cola. This is the first time in 112 years that this has happened.

Ellen Kullman

Working in the chemical industry, Ellen Kullman is the CEO and Chairman of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and company. Her company is the biggest maker of food ingredients globally. It is also the third largest company for making chemicals in the United States. She began her journey in the corporation as a marketing manager in 1988. Exhibiting talent and capability, Ellen climbed up the ranks and was named president in 2008. She was also appointed CEO in 2009. E.I. du Pont de Nemours has been up and running for a whopping 2 centuries. However, Ellen was not intimidated by its legacy. She made a number of drastic changes to make the company more successful. Under her watch, the company shifted from chemicals that are based on oil to biotechnology and environmentally responsible energy sources.

Ursula M. Burns

Easily one of the most outstanding female CEOs today, Ursula Burns overcame poverty to accomplish a great career. Her company deals in the document and process management sector of industry. Ursula grew up in the poor projects and was raised by a single mother. In 1980, she joined Xerox as an intern in the mechanical engineering section of the company. From there, she worked her way up the corporate ladder until she was named CEO in 2009. Her major achievement was when she prevented Xerox from filing for bankruptcy in 2001. She was a major stakeholder in returning the company to profitability.

Marissa Mayer

This is the current CEO of Yahoo. At 37, she is the youngest CEO to lead the technology company. She began her corporate career as the 20th employee of Google. She directly oversaw the development of products such as Google Maps and Google Earth. Thanks to these achievements, she was tapped to lead Yahoo. Marissa hit the ground running and in the first 9 months after she joined Yahoo, she had already spearheaded the development of a new Yahoo email application for the iPad as well as Android tablets.

Meg Whitman


At age 56, her resume is that of a nearly perfect corporate career. She is currently the chairman and CEO of the Hewlett Packard company. Before joining HP as CEO in 2011 she was the CEO at eBay and had been an executive officer in Hasbro, Proctor & Gamble, Dreamworks as well as the Walt Disney Company. Her main achievement is returning the company to profitability and eliminating the boardroom wars.

Rosalind Brewer

Rosalind never dreamed that one day she would be a CEO of a Walmart Business Unit. She began her career as a scientist for Nonwoven Technology. After a few years there, she moved on to oversee the product development department of Kimberly-Clark Corporation. In this capacity, she ensured the high quality of personal care products. By ensuring that only top quality products were released, Rosalind attracted the attention of Walmart officers and was tapped to become CEO of one of its units in 2012. She is both the first woman and the first African-American to take over such a position in Walmart.

The Important Take Away

The women indicated above have broken through the glass ceiling that exists in the corporate world. They are leaders and are constantly proving to the world that a woman is just as good at leading as a man, if not better. Be inspired by their stories and embrace the leadership position that you desire.