The World's 15 Most Powerful Women

 

 

  • Angela Merkel

  • John Doe
  • Germany
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues her reign as the most powerful woman on the planet for 10 years running. Why? She clinched a third four-year term of Europe's most vibrant economy in December 2014, making her the longest-serving elected EU head of state. She fought off a national recession during the global economic crisis with stimulus packages and government subsidies for companies that cut hours for workers, and she is in the thick of trying to help Greece revive its economy.

  • Hillary Clinton

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • The presumptive Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race started her campaign miles ahead of challengers. She faltered but has regained steam over time, putting up a strong front during an 11-hour marathon hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. She is the first and only first lady to become a U.S. senator, not to mention presidential candidate. Her bestselling 2014 memoir, "Hard Choices," which chronicles her time as secretary of state, reportedly earned her a high-seven-figure advance.

  • Melinda Gates

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Melinda Gates has cemented her dominance in philanthropy and global development to the tune of $3.9 billion in giving in 2014 and more than $33 billion in grant payments since she founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband in 2000. Her work has inspired other big donors and has changed way funders think about effective philanthropy: highly targeted campaigns coupled with data-driven monitoring and global collaboration.

  • Janet Yellen

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Janet Yellen made history in 2014 when she became the first female head of the Federal Reserve. The Yale and Brown educated economist has barely had a moments rest since then: She took over shortly after the central bank began unwinding its recession era bond buying program and then deftly ushered markets through six cuts that brought monthly purchases to $0 from a peak of $85 billion.

  • Mary Barra

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Mary Barra survived a harrowing first year as the first woman ever to head a Big 8 automaker last year. She faced revelations about faulty ignition switches blamed for at least 74 deaths and 126 injuries, a 30-million car recall and pressure from investors to return more cash to shareholders. In October the 35-year GM veteran finally got to lay out her strategy for the future, which includes turning Cadillac into a global luxury brand, continuing to grow in China and becoming a technology leader.

  • Christine Lagarde

  • John Doe
  • France
  • Christine Lagarde is entering the last year of her first term heading the International Monetary Fund, the organization which serves as economic advisor and backstop for 188 countries. When she took over in 2011 the world economy was still recovering from the financial crisis. Today Lagarde is projecting 3.5% annual global growth -- only a hint above last year's rate and down from 4% in 2011. Lagarde calls this the "new mediocre" and is vocal about her concern that slow growth has become the "new reality.

  • Dilma Rousseff

  • John Doe
  • Brazil
  • Calls for President Dilma Rousseff's resignation were chanted through the streets of Brazil at the start of this year, just months into her second term. Rousseff, who ran on campaign promises to harness oil and boost the economy, is now battling a bribery scandal that involves the national oil company Petrobras. As Brazil's first female president, she was elected in 2010 and was on track to end poverty in the world's seventh-largest economy.

  • Sheryl Sandberg

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and author of bestseller "Lean In." In December 2015, she donated $31 million in Facebook stock to the Sheryl Sandberg Philanthropy Fund. The majority of the donation will go to Lean In, the nonprofit Sandberg founded to back women in the workplace, and women's empowerment groups. She also plans to support education and anti-poverty groups. A former Google executive, Sandberg joined Facebook in 2008 and became the first woman on its board four years later.

  • Susan Wojcicki

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Memes may come and go, but Susan Wojcicki's new job is to make certain that YouTube profits from every one of them. Google employee No. 16 -- the company initially rented her Menlo Park garage as its headquarters -- now heads up the Internet's central hub for all things video. In February 2014, Wojcicki moved from her post as consigliere for Google's ads and commerce (some 90% of revenue) to become CEO of Google-owned YouTube, the world's largest video platform.

  • Michelle Obama

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • While her husband may sit in the Oval Office, First Lady Michelle Obama has her own power seat in the White House. At the start of the year, she traveled to Southeast Asia to push an initiative that aims to get more girls educated and improve the well-being and financial stability of young women. In the summer of 2014, she spoke of the administration's effort to end homelessness among military veterans in the USA.

  • Park Geun-hye

  • John Doe
  • South Korea
  • Overseeing the world's 14th largest economy from the capital in Seoul, a mere 120 miles from her irascible and nuclear-tipped neighbor, Kim Jong-un, Park has the weight of the Sewol ferry tragedy and a massive bribery scandal on her shoulders. It's just over one year since the disaster killed more than 300 people and last month Park expressed "regret" over "prevalent, deep-rooted corruption" in the government.

  • Oprah Winfrey

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Oprah Winfrey made a splash in October 2015 when she purchased a 10% stake in Weight Watchers and joined the board of the directors, with the company hoping the magic of her brand will rub off. The long-reigning queen of daytime TV has proven she can thrive without a talk show. Her five-year-old cable network OWN delivered its highest ratings to date in the third quarter, thanks in part to a handful of popular collaborations with director Tyler Perry, including drama 'The Haves And The Have Nots' and soap opera 'If Loving You Is Wrong'.

  • Ginni Rometty

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • More than three years have passed since Rometty took the helm at IBM and it's been anything but smooth sailing. With 11 consecutive quarters of revenue declines, IBM is sticking to its focus on boosting profit margins and cultivating growth. Under Rometty the technology giant has been shifting its portfolio of businesses. She has led spending programs for data-analysis software and skills, cloud computing and Watson artificial intelligence technology.

  • Meg Whitman

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Meg Whitman is president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a new company created in Hewlett-Packard's historic split in two in November 2015. The firm, which oversees business hardware, software and services, is projected to have more than $50 billion in annual revenues. Dion Weisler, HP's former executive vice president, now heads HP Inc., the PC and printer business. Just before the split, HP announced that it would cut 33,000 employees, or 10% of its workforce.

  • Indra Nooyi

  • John Doe
  • United States
  • Nooyi rang in PepsiCo's 50th anniversary as a combined food and beverage company by throwing a bone to an activist investor threatening to ruin the party. By handing a board seat to Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund, who thinks the company should be split up, Nooyi avoided a messy proxy fight. Her five-year plan to cut costs by $5 billion is underway and she has been increasingly generous with shareholders. In 2014, PepsiCo returned $8.7 billion through buybacks and dividends, a 36% increase from the year before.