“Successful women have an aura that says I belong in this seat.” – Cathie Black
Too long have women been relegated to the sidelines. For a time, financial success was closely associated almost exclusively with men.
Well, not anymore.
Forbes recently released its list of America’s richest self-made women whose combined worth is over US$80 billion. Here are the top five on that said list.
Diane Hendricks (US$7 billion). Diane co-founded ABC Supply, one of the biggest wholesale roofing, siding, and windows distributors in the US, with her late husband, Ken, in 1982. She led the growth of ABC after the death of her husband in 2007. Her company now has 780 branch locations which translate to billions of dollars in sales. She gives back by bringing in businesses to where it all began – Beloit, Wisconsin. Such a move resulted in widespread economic development.
Meg Whitman (US$3.8 billion). Meet former eBay CEO, Meg Whitman. It was under her watch that she improved the sales of said giant e-commerce company exponentially. How huge was the difference? From a little above US$5 million to an unbelievable US$8 billion in sales! She moved on to serve in top positions at Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, and Dropbox. Her golden touch has not waned over the years. Her most recent achievement? Raking in a total of US$1 billion in funding as CEO of video platform, Quibi.
Marian Ilitch (US$3.7 billion). She’s one half of the genius behind Little Caesar’s Pizza which she co-founded with her late husband, Mike, back in 1959. The world-famous pizza chain hauls in a whopping US$4 billion annually. She owns the ice hockey team Detroit Red Wings and MotorCity Casino Hotel. She helped build Detroit’s sports and entertainment district most recognized for its pizza-shaped windows. Its purported building cost is estimated at US$1.4 billion.
Judy Faulkner (US$3.6 billion). Judy is the brains behind Epic, the leading medical-record software provider in the US. This computer programmer’s tech empire traces its humble roots in a Wisconsin basement in the late seventies. Currently, Judy remains as Epic’s CEO. This US$2.9 billion health care company is being used by big-name medical centers and over 250 million patients. She donates 99% of her stake in Epic to a private charitable institution.
Thai Lee (US$3 billion). Thai is the first of the three women of colour who made it into Forbes’ top ten richest women in the US. She is the CEO of SHI International, a global IT company that serves thousands of customers including AT&T and Boeing. Born in Bangkok and raised in South Korea, she eventually moved to the US as a teenager. After finishing a Harvard MBA, she worked at Procter & Gamble and American Express before investing in SHI. The rest, as they say, is history.
It is truly inspiring to know the stories of these women who have broken the proverbial glass ceiling and paved the way for female leaders across the globe to follow in their footsteps. As more and more women join the elusive billionaire list, the world is finally paying attention. The strength and influence of an empowered woman can no longer be denied. This is, indeed, girl power personified.