04 October 2011

Irene Beats Our Nooyi to Become Top 1 Business Woman

KRAFT Foods CEO, Irene Rosenfeld is now the most powerful woman in business said Fortune magazine. Bumping PepsiCo Inc chief Indira Nooyi into second spot Irene made it to top one after five years.

The 14th annual ranking was determined by the size and importance of the woman's business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman's career and her social and cultural relevance.

"Rosenfeld made a big show of power this year with her decision to split Kraft into two companies, a reversal of her previous strategy of expanding through acquisitions," Fortune magazine said of the Kraft chief executive, who led a hostile $18 billion takeover of Britain's Cadbury last year.

"On Nooyi's watch, PepsiCo has forged further into nutrition-focused products," Fortune said. "But Nooyi has been criticized for taking her eye off the core North American soda business, this has lost share to Coke."


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Nooyi was the only woman in the top 10 most powerful to be among the top 10 highest paid, coming in at No. 9 after earning $14 million last year. The highest paid woman was Oracle President Safra Catz with $42 million.

"While her ascent to the role is a sure sign of her power, it remains to be seen if she can fix the computer maker and bring order to its dysfunctional board," Fortune said.

While women represent about half of the United States' white-collar workers, they are a rarity in the upper echelons of business, with female chief executives running just 3 percent of companies in the S & P 500 index.

More companies have been focusing recently on increasing their female board representation as more and more research has shown that companies with women directors or even just more diverse boards tend to do better than those with executive teams made up entirely of men.

A former British trade minister wants FTSE 100 companies to have 25 percent women on boards by 2015 and EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier has put gender diversity for bank boards on his radar in the wake of the financial crisis.