Within retail, we know the influence and impact our industry has on everyday life and the economy as a whole. But sometimes it takes an eye-catching headline like “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” to make other people sit up and take notice.
And Forbes’ most recent list certainly did that. Among the politicians, humanitarians and media moguls highlighted, six of the world’s most powerful women are CEOs right within our industry.
To many people, retail may just seem like a starting point for their working life, but the Forbes list demonstrates that a career in our industry can lead to some of the most powerful positions in the world. These women are certainly proof of that.
- Sheri McCoy – CEO, Avon (#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% of its $65 billion in revenues.
- Angela Ahrendts – CEO, Burberry (#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. Those accomplishments were also recognized by NRF last year as Ahrendts accepted the “International Retailer of the Year” award at Retail’s BIG Show in January.
- Rosalind Brewer - President and CEO, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart Stores (#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.” (My favorite fact about Brewer: she was a college chemistry major. Further proof that there is no “traditional” path to the top in our industry.)
- Carol Meyrowitz – CEO, TJX Co. (#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 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 (#88): Here’s some food for thought: 64 million customers. 14,000 U.S. restaurants. 8 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.
- Mindy Grossman – CEO, HSN (#96): We’ve gotten to know Mindy Grossman pretty well around NRF, as she’s been a frequent speaker at Retail’s BIG Show and is an active member of the NRF Board of Directors. Grossman is a retail visionary with a great story to tell, and she’s passionate about the opportunities in our industry. I love this Harvard Business Review interview with Mindy from last winter where she talks about how she “had to change the tires while the car was running” when she first arrived at the company from Nike.
Congratulations to these fabulous CEOs who made it on to the list. As NRF continues to promote the value of retail and the innovation that lies within our industry, these female executives serve as fantastic examples of the opportunity, promise and achievement that a career in retail allows.