Women CEOs Among World’s Most Powerful

Working retail isn’t so bad – when you’re at the top of the food chain.

Last week, Forbes released its list of the 100 Most Powerful Women, and last Friday, the National Retail Federation took a minute to spotlight some of them: CEOs of retail companies.

“To many people, retail may just seem like a starting point for their working life,” says the NRF. “But the Forbes list demonstrates that a career in our industry can lead to some of the most powerful positions in the world.” Here they are…

  • Sheri McCoy, CEO, Avon (No. 39): After taking the helm at Avon in April 2012, McCoy is already being commended for her strategic skills and business acumen. Prior to Avon, she spent 30 years at Johnson & Johnson, where she oversaw 60 percent of its $65 billion in revenues.
  • Angela Ahrendts, CEO, Burberry (No. 45): As CEO of one of the world’s most iconic brands and the largest apparel, accessories and luxury goods company by market cap in the U.K., Ahrendts is the power behind $2.8 billion in annual revenues.
  • Rosalind Brewer, President and CEO, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart Stores (No. 50): Earlier this year, Brewer made history as the first woman and first African-American to become CEO of a Wal-Mart business unit, and she’s got big plans. “Sam Walton made history by changing retail over the past 50 years,” she reportedly said earlier this year, “but now it’s our turn for the next 50 years.”
  • Carol Meyrowitz, CEO, TJX Co. (No. 68): While many of the retail CEOs on the list came into their current roles after a number of positions at other companies, Meyrowitz has been a mainstay at TJX [which owns stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls] since 1983. She has plans to grow the company to 4,500 stores and add a robust online presence. After the company’s previous successes connecting with budget-minded shoppers, her staying power shouldn’t be discounted.
  • Jan Fields, President, McDonald’s USA (No. 88): 64 million customers and 14,000 U.S. restaurants, with eight consecutive years of sales growth (recession included). And in her spare time, Fields is credited for McDonald’s health-conscious movement, including swapping fruit for desserts in Happy Meals and reducing portion sizes.

They cheat a little with Jan Fields, who’s a president and not CEO. (Don Thompson is CEO.) But there are plenty of other women CEOs on the list, just not in retail. In just the top 25, these include PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi (No. 12), Kraft Foods’ Irene Rosenfeld (No. 13), IBM’s Virginia Rometty (No. 15), Xerox’s Ursula Burns (No. 17), Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman (No. 18), Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer (No. 21), and WellPoint’s Angela Braly (No. 24).

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