40 powerful women leading tech around the world

2 Mar 2016

With less than a week to go to International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the powerful women leaders in tech from all over the globe.

Celebrating 100 women in tech

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Though all too often overshadowed by their male peers, women leaders can be found throughout the tech scene. Here are just 40 of them, in no particular order, other than alphabetical.

Brace yourself, for this list is packed with power.

1. Angela Ahrendts, Apple

Angela Ahrendts, Apple. Image via Apple

Angela Ahrendts, Apple. Image via Apple

Angela Ahrendts is the senior vice-president of retail and online stores at Apple, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook (whose salary she surpasses as the company’s highest-paid executive). Ahrendts left her role as CEO of Burberry to join Apple in 2014, and set to work refining the mega tech brand’s retail process.

2.  Ursula M Burns, Xerox


Ursula M Burns, CEO, Xerox. Image via Xerox

From joining Xerox as an intern in 1980, Ursula M Burns became the first black American woman to lead a major US corporation in 2009 and the first female CEO in the US to succeed another woman. This year will be a challenging one for Burns, as the 110-year-old company plans a major split.

3.  Safra Catz, Oracle


Oracle’s Safra Catz. Image via Flickr/Oracle

When Oracle founder Larry Ellison stepped down as CEO in 2014, he was succeeded by the duo of Mark Hurd and Safra Catz. Catz climbed the executive ladder at Oracle to the top and, with a background in financial leadership, she has spearheaded a string of successful acquisitions.

4.  Aparna Chennapragada, Google

Aparna Chennapragada on stage at Web Summit last year. Image via Flickr/WebSummit

Aparna Chennapragada on stage at Web Summit last year. Image via Flickr/WebSummit

Aparna Chennapragada is the director of Google Now, a product with roots in the tech titan’s core product: search. A challenging role, Chennapragada not only has to manage building an intelligent service for a broad spectrum of users worldwide, but to do so with a team suffering from organisational shifts amid Google’s transition to Alphabet.

5.  Tracy Chou, Pinterest

Tracy Chou onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt last year. Image via Flickr/TechCrunch

Tracy Chou on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt last year. Image via Flickr/TechCrunch

Tracy Chou works as a software engineer at Pinterest, but where she leads is in calling on Silicon Valley to own up to its gender imbalance. Chou sparked a trend in transparency when, in 2013, she crowdsourced a survey of women working in technical roles in the Valley, and she’s a huge part of the reason we now see regular diversity reports from major tech companies.

6.  Cora Creed, Universal Music Group

Cora Creed, Universal Music Group. Image via LinkedIn

Cora Creed, Universal Music Group. Image via LinkedIn

Irishwoman Cora Creed moved to the US in 1991 and has held positions with Napster, EMI and Sony Music. Her latest role with Universal Music Group as vice-president of digital supply chain management sees her maintaining a base in New York but, judging by her Twitter feed, she remains constantly connected to the Irish business scene.

7.  Weili Dai, Marvell Technology Group

Weili Dai, Marvell Technology Group. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Weili Dai, Marvell Technology Group. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Weili Dai stakes her claim as the only woman co-founder of a global semiconductor company, having established Marvell Technology Group with her husband Dr Sehat Sutardja in 1995. Marvell now ships more than 1bn chips per year and Dai serves as president, having previously held positions such as COO, executive vice-president and general manager of the communications business group.

8. Una Fox, The Walt Disney Company

Una Fox, The Walt Disney Company

Una Fox, The Walt Disney Company

Irishwoman Una Fox has held a number of VP positions at The Walt Disney Company, from retail and e-commerce, to data and, most recently, to digital marketing and CRM. Fox co-founded CoderDojoLA in her adopted California home, teaching kids to code at sessions in Google LA, Disney, Sony and more.

Update, Friday 10 June at 12.29pm: This article has been updated to reflect that Una Fox will no longer be speaking at Inspirefest 2016.

9. Diane Greene, Google

Diane Greene speaking at a UC Berkeley event recently. Image via YouTube

Diane Greene speaking at a UC Berkeley event recently. Image via YouTube

Diane Greene should be one of the best-known names in tech, considering her pedigree. As co-founder and CEO of VMware, Greene helped build one of the world’s fastest-growing tech companies, selling to EMC for $635m in 2003. Greene departed in 2009 and went on to found Bebop, a start-up that kept under the radar until a $380m acquisition by Google late last year that saw Greene become senior vice-president of Google’s enterprise business.

10. Julia Hartz, Eventbrite

Julia Hartz

Julia Hartz, co-founder and president, Eventbrite. Image via JD Lasica/Flickr

Julia Hartz is co-founder and president of Eventbrite, a company last valued at $1bn. In her role, Hartz focuses on in-house strategy and growth, and is responsible for keeping the growing international team of ‘Britelings’ happy, as well as maintaining Eventbrite’s award-winning workplace culture.

11. Amy Hood, Microsoft

Amy Hood

Amy Hood, CFO, Microsoft. Image via Microsoft

When Amy Hood became chief financial officer at Microsoft in 2013, she was the first woman to secure the role. Seen as Microsoft’s No 2, Hood is responsible for an $86.8bn revenue stream and acquisitions such as the $2.5bn takeover of Minecraft.

12. Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post Media Group

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief, Huffington Post. Image via Cvent Cvent/Flickr

Arianna Huffington has appeared on countless lists of leading women, having spent more than a decade as president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, which she also co-founded. In 2011, the online news platform became part of the AOL media corporation, incorporating existing AOL properties such as AOL Music and Engadget as Huffington Post Media Group.

13. Abigail Johnson, Fidelity Investments

Abigail Johnson

Abigail Johnson, CEO, Fidelity Investments. Image via YouTube

Abigail Johnson replaced her father, Edward Johnson, as Fidelity Investments CEO in 2014 – the heir-apparent of the company her grandfather founded in 1946. Johnson has also held onto her role as president of Fidelity Investments, the second-largest mutual fund business in the US with over $2trn in assets under management, and serves as chair of international sister company Fidelity International.

14. Peggy Johnson, Microsoft

Peggy Johnson

Peggy Johnson, executive VP of business development, Microsoft. Image via Web Summit/Flickr

Microsoft’s ‘deal boss’ Peggy Johnson (official title: executive vice-president of business development) struck a good deal of her own when she moved from Qualcomm in 2014: a $7.8m signing bonus. Johnson was the first major hire under Satya Nadella and, in a short period, she’s forged strategic acquisitions and partnerships with Cyanogen and Dropbox, among others.

15. Margaret Keane, Synchrony Financial

Margaret Keane

Margaret Keane, ‎president and CEO of Synchrony Financial. Image via Synchrony Financial

When Synchrony Financial spun out of General Electric with an IPO in 2014, its wholly-owned subsidiary Synchrony Bank became the most valuable bank in the US run by a woman. Overall, Synchrony looks beyond traditional banking, with president and CEO Margaret Keane at the helm. With Keane an advocate of emerging technology, Synchrony’s focus is on data analytics and tech-driven relationship building.

16. Martina King, Featurespace

Martina King

Martina King, CEO, Featurespace. Image via Betsy Weber/Flickr

Since 2012, Martina King has been CEO of Featurespace, a fraud-prevention service that uses real-time, self-learning adaptive behavioural analytics. This latest role follows a portfolio career in leadership that includes companies as diverse as Yahoo, Capital Radio and augmented-reality company Aurasma, which she left after HP’s takeover.

17. Bethany Mayer, Ixia

Bethany Mayer

Bethany Mayer, president and CEO of Ixia, speaking at Inspirefest 2015. Image via Conor McCabe

Ixia president and CEO Bethany Mayer has more than 30 years’ experience in the tech industry, with top names such as Apple, Cisco and HP on her résumé. She was also involved with three start-ups, two successes and one abject failure Mayer doesn’t shy away from. Her 15 tips for navigating what she calls ‘the glass maze’ was a must-see keynote at Inspirefest 2015.

18. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer, CEO and president, Yahoo. Image via JD Lasica/Flickr

Perhaps the most controversial entry on this list, ex-Googler Marissa Mayer was sold as the saviour of flailing online business Yahoo when she was appointed as CEO in 2012 – the fifth at the company in as many years. Her failure to turn its fortunes around has been well-documented, but the big career challenge for Mayer will be how she parts company with her current employer. Plenty of tech leaders have been fired and gone on to bigger and better things (Diane Greene, Carly Fiorina and, of course, the late Steve Jobs are just a few examples) and you cannot deny Mayer’s presence in the current tech leadership landscape.

19. Michelle Peluso, Gilt and HBC

Michelle Peluso

Michelle Peluso, CEO, Gilt Groupe. Image via Gilt Groupe

Michelle Peluso’s CV is packed with C-level positions. Lately, chief strategic adviser to Gilt and Hudson’s Bay Company (following the latter’s $250m acquisition of the former earlier this year), Peluso was previously CEO of Gilt, CMO at Citigroup, and CEO (after being COO) of Travelocity, from her role as CEO of acquired company Site59.

20. Lucy Peng, Ant Financial Services and Alibaba Group

Lucy Peng, CEO, Ant Financial Services

Alibaba co-founder Lucy Peng is the CEO of the Chinese company’s financial services division, Ant Financial Services. Peng also serves as chief people officer of Alibaba Group and, since its record-breaking IPO, is one of the wealthiest women in tech. An IPO for Ant Financial is also on the cards, and the company was recently valued at $45bn.

21. Ruth Porat, Alphabet

Ruth Porat

Ruth Porat, CFO, Alphabet. Image via Alphabet

The “most powerful woman on Wall Street”, Ruth Porat was appointed CFO of Google in March last year and, since the company’s restructuring, she now holds the role of CFO of Google parent Alphabet. Previously, Porat was the CFO of Morgan Stanley for five years and she led the Morgan Stanley team advising the US government in the wake of the financial crisis.

22. Zhou Qunfei, Lens Technology

Zhou Qunfei, founder, Lens Technology. Image via Tech In Asia

Zhou Qunfei, founder, Lens Technology. Image via Tech In Asia

Zhou Qunfei is the founder of Lens Technology, which makes the glass for smartphones and swartwatches, including the Apple Watch. Little known a year ago, she came to international attention when her company, which she built from the ground up, made its IPO last year and she became the richest woman in China and the richest self-made woman in the world.

23. Ginni Rometty, IBM

Ginni Rometty

Ginni Rometty, President and CEO, IBM. Image via Hans Pennink/Feature Photo Service for IBM

Ginny Rometty is the chairperson, president and CEO of IBM, one of the world’s largest and best-known companies. She was appointed to these senior roles in 2012 and, prior to that, had held numerous leadership roles within IBM since she joined the Big Blue in 1981.

24. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook. Image via Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, is a familiar name to many as she is one of the highest-profile women in the technology sector. Appointed COO in 2008, she became the first woman on the Facebook board in 2012 and has played a key role in the company during a period of huge user and profit growth. In 2013, she also co-wrote the best-selling leadership book Lean In.

25. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX


Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX

Gwynne Shotwell is the president and COO of Elon Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX. Shotwell, who joined SpaceX in its founding year in 2002, oversees the day-to-day operations of the company and was named one of Forbes’ ‘100 Most Powerful Women in the World’ last year.

26. Ellyn J Shook, Accenture

Accenture's Ellen Shook. Image via Accenture

Accenture’s Ellyn J Shook. Image via Accenture

In Inspirefest speaker Ellyn J Shook, Accenture has a chief human resources officer who knows the company inside out, having worked there since 1988. From the management consulting and technology services company’s Minneapolis office, Shook leads talent strategies and programmes for more than 300,000 employees worldwide – the importance of which is evident in Accenture’s $841m investment in training and professional development in 2015.

27. Megan Smith, The White House

White House CTO Megan Smith speaking during the White House's annual State of STEM address last year. Image via Flickr/NASAHQ

White House CTO Megan Smith speaking during the White House’s annual State of STEM address last year. Image via Flickr/NASAHQ

Megan Smith has, arguably, the top job in tech in the US as chief technology officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy – the first woman to win the role. As US CTO, Smith assists the president on matters of technology policy, data and innovation.

28. Lauren C States, Harvard University

Lauren C States, Harvard University

Lauren C States, Harvard University

Soon to be taking to the stage at Inspirefest 2016, Lauren C States previously held a number of executive positions over 36 years at IBM, the most recent being vice-president of strategy and transformation at IBM Software Group. She moved on in 2015 and, among other things, is now a fellow with Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, focusing on math literacy and algebra as a pathway to get more girls and minority students into the tech industry.

29. Regina Sullivan, Fidelity Investments

Accenture's Regina Sullivan

Fidelity Investments’ Regina Sullivan

On the one hand, Fidelity Investments is a financial services company, and on the other it’s a business investing almost $3bn per year – and one-quarter of its workforce – in technology. As executive vice-president in charge of Fidelity’s global business services, Regina Sullivan manages matters related to technology and operations offshoring, and the business operations of the global sites.

30. Kara Swisher, Re/code

Re/Code's Kara Swisher onstage at Inspirefest 2015. Image via Conor McCabe Photography

Re/Code’s Kara Swisher onstage at Inspirefest 2015. Image via Conor McCabe Photography

If you write or read about technology, Kara Swisher needs no introduction. Her byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and AllThingsD.com (founded as an extension of the conference she established in 2007 with Walt Mossberg). Now, as executive editor of Re/code, Swisher has set herself the challenge of reimagining tech journalism. A welcome guest chair at Inspirefest 2015, Swisher will return to Dublin at Inspirefest this summer.

31. Minerva Tantoco, NYC Mayor’s Office of Tech & Innovation

Minerva Tantoco, CTO of New York. Image via Flickr/InternetWeek

Minerva Tantoco, CTO of New York. Image via Flickr/InternetWeek

Entrepreneur, AI patent-holder and proven tech strategist Minerva Tantoco was appointed New York City’s first-ever CTO in 2014, directing mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Technology and Innovation in the development and implementation of a strategy to enhance the city’s tech ecosystem. As part of this remit, Tantoco has become a major force behind efforts to make computer science accessible to all students.

32. Lorraine Twohill, Google

Google's Lorraine Twohill. Image via Google Capital

Google’s Lorraine Twohill. Image via Google Capital

Senior vice-president of global marketing at Google, Lorraine Twohill has been telling this brand’s story for over 10 years, whether that means promoting Chrome and YouTube while supporting LGBT communities, or getting kids to design Doodles for the search homepage. A Carlow native, Twohill was Google’s first marketing hire from outside the US and, by the time she reached senior ranks in 2014, she had over two decades’ worth of experience in marketing overall.

33. Katharine Viner, Guardian News & Media

Katharine Viner, Guardian News & Media. Image via The Guardian

Katharine Viner, Guardian News & Media. Image via The Guardian

Katharine Viner is the first female editor-in-chief at The Guardian in the publication’s 195-year history, taking the helm at a tough time for publishers. The driving force behind the award-winning Guardian Australia and former editor-in-chief of the web-based Guardian US, Viner is now tasked with bridging the gap between the The Guardian’s enviable digital readership and its less palatable bottom line.

34. Cher Wang, HTC

HTC chair and CEO Cher Wang. Image via Flickr/Robert Scoble

HTC chair and CEO Cher Wang. Image via Flickr/Robert Scoble

The co-founder and chair of Taiwan’s HTC had to step in as CEO last year to pull her company back from the brink. Cher Wang also co-founded integrated chipset maker VIA Technologies, and sits on the board of and advises numerous Taiwanese start-ups, but she is now reportedly devoting six days a week to getting HTC going again. The much-coveted Chinese market might provide a life raft, and Wang has targeted 10pc market share while also branching out into new wearable and VR products.

35. Padmasree Warrior, NextEV

Padmasree Warrior, NextEV. Image via Flickr/WebSummit

Padmasree Warrior, NextEV. Image via Flickr/WebSummit

A tech leader as powerful as her name would have you believe, Padmasree Warrior is a veteran of the international tech scene who is now venturing into the start-up world. After seven years at Cisco – most notably as chief technology and strategy officer – Warrior recently embarked on a new journey as US CEO and global chief development officer of NextEV, a Chinese electric-vehicle start-up taking on Tesla.

36. Meg Whitman, HP Enterprise

Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Image via HPE

Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Image via HPE

Meg Whitman is perhaps the only woman to have led three large US public companies. The first was eBay, where she stepped up as president and CEO just six months before its IPO. Then came her role as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, which famously split into two companies in 2015, giving Whitman a new role as CEO of HP Enterprise.

37. Judith Williams, Dropbox

Judith Williams, Dropbox

Judith Williams, Dropbox

Upcoming Inspirefest speaker Judith Williams is global head of diversity at Dropbox, following a similar position at Google, where she directed the unconscious bias work stream and built strategies for recruitment, retention and advancement of Google’s technical employees. Before that, she was an entrepreneur, a HR consultant, and a college professor.

38. Susan Wojcicki, YouTube

Susan Wojcicki, YouTube. Image via Flickr/FortuneBrainstormTech

Susan Wojcicki, YouTube. Image via Flickr/FortuneBrainstormTech

A true Silicon Valley native, Susan Wojcicki was an early employee at Google, back when it was still operating out of a garage (her garage, in fact), and has blazed a trail for family-friendly policies at the multinational. Having spearheaded the company’s acquisition of YouTube, she later became its CEO and makes a point of being directly plugged in to this active community.

39. Maggie Wu, Alibaba Group

Maggie Wu. Image via Alibaba

Maggie Wu. Image via Alibaba

Maggie Wu became the highest-ranking woman at Alibaba when she was appointed its CFO in 2013. Even before she took control of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s complex financial structure, she had been instrumental in the financial work leading up to its 2014 IPO – yet to be surpassed as the world’s largest-ever IPO.

40. Jane Zavalishina, Yandex Data Factory

Jane Zavalishina, Yandex Data Factory. Image via Flickr/LeWeb3

Jane Zavalishina, Yandex Data Factory. Image via Flickr/LeWeb3

Not a data scientist by training, Jane Zavalishina has become one by practice, starting with her work at parent company Yandex (the largest search provider in Russia), and now as CEO of Yandex Data Factory. Yandex Data Factory builds upon the machine learning and predictive technologies of Yandex, and Zavalishina can often be found on a conference stage forecasting the impact of these innovations.

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Intel, Open Eir (formerly Eircom Wholesale), Fidelity Investments, Accenture and CoderDojo.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Get your Early Bird tickets now.

Number 40 image via Shutterstock