Six women who reached the top of their professions this year

Looking for some career inspiration? Her are six women who broke through the barriers to be promoted to the top of their professions in 2018.

We justifiably hear a great deal about the barriers and ceilings holding women back in their careers. But it’s not often – outside the few famous female bosses who seem to dominate the media – that we hear about the ones who did make it. The women who successfully (and often quietly) climbed to the very top of their industry or business.

And there are many good reasons why women deserve to rise through the ranks. Aside from their own talent and hard work, it’s been shown that companies that intentionally pursue the appointment of women to their top leadership ranks are better positioned to outperform competitors.

Firms with the highest gender diversity show stronger stock price growth (70%), and having at least one woman on the board decreases bankruptcy by a full 20%.

Six women who reached the top of their professions in 2018

To celebrate some of the lesser-known success stories, here are six inspiring women who have reached the top of their professions in 2018, as collated by international jobs network WORK180.

1) Stacey Cunningham, President of the New York Stock Exchange

This is the first time the NYSE has had a female leader in its 226-year history. Stacey’s appointment raises hopes that the glass ceiling may have finally cracked on Wall Street. “It’s really important to recognise that any time a woman pushes the boundaries and redefines the boundaries, she’s redefining them for everyone else that follows her”.

2) Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News

Suzanne is the first female chief executive of the Fox News operations. Suzanne doesn’t just make history for being first women CEO at Fox – but the first in all of cable news. Century Fox Co-Chairman Lachlan Murdoch commented: “Suzanne has been instrumental in the success of FOX News and she has now made history as its first female CEO. Her vision and innovation have helped create some of the most popular and lucrative primetime programs on cable.”

3) Dhivya Suryadevara, CFO of General Motors

Divya becomes the first female CFO in the history of GM and will replace current CFO Chuck Stevens, who has been working at the auto company longer than Dhivya has been alive. Anna Beninger, senior director of research at Catalyst says:

Any time a woman is added to the C-Suite it’s something that should be celebrated. Given that the rate of change for women into the C-suite and into the CEO level has been so slow, any time we see one, it is certainly progress.

4) Debra Perelman, CEO of Revlon

This makes Debra the first woman in the position in the company’s 86 years of existence. With women holding only 5% of the CEO jobs in the S&P 500, this is an important achievement for diversity in corporate management. We need more women at the helms of our large corporations, especially when their products are aimed at women. “Beauty has emerged as one of today’s most dynamic and fastest-growing industries and I look forward to working with Revlon’s world-class team to amplify our strategy and accelerate growth”

5) Priscillah Mabelane, CEO of BP Southern Africa (BPSA)

Priscillah is the first black female CEO of BP, and her appointment marks a significant milestone in the organisation and industry transformation journey of the company. BPSA chairperson Thandi Orleyn said: “Priscillah’s appointment reinforces BPSA’s pioneering role and strength of commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce that will breed creativity and ensure we meet, even exceed customer expectations.”

6) Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO of Macquarie Bank

Shemara Wikramanayake is the first female chief executive of Macquarie Group, taking over from Nicholas Moore, whose decade-long stint in the top job is coming to an end. “With Shemara, we have a really outstanding successor” says Nicholas. Shemara is now Australia’s top female executive at a time of intense regulatory and economic headwinds for financial companies.

WORK180 is an international jobs network that connects smart businesses with talented women.

Photo from Xinhua/Reuters