SBI’s Arundhati Bhattacharya, ICICI’s Chanda Kochhar among Forbes’ most powerful women

Merkel, who retained her numero uno spot this year, has made the list 10 times out of the past 11 editions and nine times as No. 1.

By: Press Trust of India | New York | Published: May 28, 2014 8:42:20 pm
PepsiCo's India-born Chief Indra Nooyi is 13th on the list. PepsiCo’s India-born Chief Indra Nooyi is 13th on the list.

State Bank of India Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya and ICICI Bank Managing Director Chanda Kochhar are among the five women from India featured in Forbes’ 100 most powerful women in the world, a list topped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Bhattacharya is ranked 36th on the power list, while Kochhar is 43rd. Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is ranked 92nd on the list.

PepsiCo’s India-born Chief Indra Nooyi is 13th on the list while Cisco’s Chief Technology and Strategy OfficerPadmasree Warrior is ranked 71st on Forbes’ “definitive annual guide to the extraordinary icons and leaders, groundbreakers and ceiling crashers who command the world stage.”

Merkel, who retained her numero uno spot this year, has made the list 10 times out of the past 11 editions and nine times as No. 1.

Merkel is followed by Chair of the US Federal Reserve Janet Yellen, philanthropist Melinda Gates (3), former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (6), General Motors’ first woman CEO Mary Barra (7), First Lady Michelle Obama (8) and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (9).

Forbes said as the head of India’s largest lender with about USD 380 billion in assets, Bhattacharya holds “one of the most powerful positions” on the Asian subcontinent.

“Not only is she the first woman appointed to the position, but she is also the youngest at age 57,” it said. Bhattacharya has served almost every function within the company, including foreign exchange, treasury, retail operations, human resources and investment banking. “When the Indian economy showed signs of slowing, she voiced strong support for major reforms across agriculture, industry and the financial sector.

She’s been an ally to women at SBI, introducing a two-year sabbatical policy for women employees for child or elder care and serving on a team to create blueprints for the first all-women bank, Forbes said.

Kochhar, 52, oversees almost USD 125 billion in assets as Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank. “She has been credited with leading a remarkable transformation at the firm, which experienced major setbacks after the 2008 financial crisis,” Forbes said.

Her focus on “mobile banking” in rural areas to reach more clients has been praised as a model for low-cost expansion in a country with a burgeoning middle class.

Kochhar has been an outspoken proponent of clearer banking laws from the government led by new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Shaw, 61, is the founder of India’s leading biotechnology enterprise and the country’s wealthiest self-made woman with a net worth of USD 655 million, Forbes said. Her company this year developed a treatment for breast cancer more affordable than anything previously on the market.

She is the first female chair of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. An active philanthropist, she recently donated USD 5 million for a new research unit at her cancer hospital in Bangalore.

On Nooyi, 58, the magazine said she once again exceeded analyst expectations and the beverages giant delivered a good performance under her leadership.

“How’d she do it? Thinking outside the soda can. In 2013, PepsiCo products accounted for nine of the top 50 new food and beverage introductions in the US,” Forbes said.

“She did not give way to recent pressure to split the company to slash costs and spur growth. Instead, she pledges to keep the company undivided while improving performance and cutting USD 5 billion in costs over five years starting in 2015,” Forbes said.


Cisco’s Warrior, 53, has been called by the IT company’s CEO John Chambers as “among the sharpest technology persons in the world” and her name frequently comes up as a most likely successor when he steps down in the next few years.

The IIT alumnus helped Cisco grow through partnerships and acquisitions, including nine in 2013 totalling USD 4.2 billion.

“Warrior still finds the time to mentor other women in the tech industry, stay in touch with her 1.46 million Twitter followers and for a nightly meditation routine,” Forbes added.

“Increasingly it’s not about knowing all the answers but asking the right questions and figuring out how to get the right answer,” Forbes quoted her as saying.

Also on the list are media mogul Oprah Winfrey (14), singer Beyonce (17), Yahoo Chief Marissa Mayer (18), Harvard President Drew Faust (33), Queen Elizabeth (35), Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (47), Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (61), and singer Lady Gaga (67).

On this year’s Forbes list, 18 are newcomers, including Yellen and US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. Eight women who appeared on the inaugural list in 2004 are still on the list 10 years later. These include Gates, IMF head Christine Lagarde, Clinton and Nooyi.

Seven technology women made the top 25, including Facebook’s Sandberg, Yahoo’s Mayer and HP chief Meg Whitman.

There are 18 technologists, including newly-named CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki and cofounder of HTC Cher Wang.

More than half (58) of the women on the list are American, including immigrants from Belgium, Ireland and India. Asian and Southeast Asian citizens make the second strongest showing at 23.

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