The days of not finding women in senior financial leadership positions are coming to an end. Investors are starting to view gender-diverse companies as more innovative and ethical with an increasing number of women taking on top roles. Here are six powerful women who are paving the way forward in finance.
American billionaire businesswoman Abigail Johnson is Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Investments. She oversees over 50,000 employees worldwide and the firm’s managed assets valued at nearly $2.7 trillion.
Although Fidelity Investments is a family company, Johnson had to earn her success. She worked summers at Fidelity throughout college. When she joined the firm in 1988, after receiving a Harvard MBA, she started at the bottom as a stock analyst. She now owns an estimated 24.5% stake of the firm.
Career takeaway from Abigail Johnson: Trust your instincts. “At the end of the day, you know yourself best.”
In 2010, Ana Botin became the first female CEO of a UK bank after she was named CEO of Santander UK. In 2014, she became the Executive Chairman of Santander group. She is well-known for pulling off the 2017 acquisition of Banco Popular by Banco Santander for €1.
Botin champions innovation and fintech. She helped in the creation of Spain’s first multi-sector blockchain-based businesses. She also backs women-owned businesses and small enterprises, and she launched Santander X to support university entrepreneurship.
Career takeaway from Ana Botin: Innovative thinking is vital for growth. “Being different is critical.”
Stacey Cunningham made history in May 2018 when she became the first woman President of the NYSE in its 226-year history. Although Catherine Kinney was Co-President of the NYSE from 2002-08, there were still male executives running the exchange above her and so Cunningham’s appointment was a defining moment for women in finance.
Before her appointment, Cunningham was COO of NYSE. Since becoming President, she’s played a big role in updating NYSE’s operations and the major technology that connects the exchange’s markets. She’s also working to improve access to public markets.
Career takeaway from Stacey Cunningham: “Our skills are more valuable than our experience and the even better news is they’re transferable. Focus on honing skills and then don’t be afraid to find new places to apply them.”
Ho Ching is CEO of investment firm, Temasek Holdings and the wife of Singapore’s current Prime Minister. She has been part of Temasek holdings for 17 years. She has helped grow the firm’s portfolio to over $235 billion and has poured the firm’s money into sectors like agribusiness, life sciences and tech.
Career takeaway from Ho Ching: “I think if you want to run life with regret, you will end up doing very little.”
As CEO of JP Morgan’s Asset and Wealth Management, Mary Erdoes is growing the firm’s assets. In 2018, she increased assets under management by 8.1% to $2.1 trillion. She led JP Morgan’s entrance into China after the firm got its first licence to operate an asset management business in Shanghai.
Erdoes nurtures a strong company culture with programs aimed at promoting ethnic and female diversity. She is widely considered a potential successor to JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon.
Career takeaway from Mary Erdoes: “There is no substitute for hard work. There is a little luck along the way, but there is no substitute for really super-hard work, first in, last out.”
The President and CEO of Nasdaq, Adena Friedman, is an advocate for making public markets and investing more accessible. Since becoming the first women to lead a major US stock exchange in 2017, Friedman aims to diversify Nasdaq and identify growth opportunities.
Her strategy is working and 75% of the exchange’s revenues now come from new sources and not just trades and IPOs. Also, Nasdaq is entering the crypto market and it recently listed an index of crypto’s 100 coins, the AI-powered CIX100, on its platform.
Career takeaway from Adena Friedman: Rejection is not the end. “Rejection should ignite soul-searching, and the soul-searching must be absolutely honest.”
These women are setting the bar for the next leading women in finance and the future is looking good.