While there’s sure to be more to come, women have already a major impact on the business world, and their influence continues to grow. In truth, some of the wealthiest and most successful individuals in the world are females.
To highlight the previous point, every year, Forbes produces lists that highlights the wealthiest and most powerful females on Earth. This list will combine the best of both worlds by showcasing the five wealthiest and the five most powerful females around.
Though they are some times thought to mean the same thing – as we are about to see – there is a difference between wealth and power.
10 Powerful: Abigal Johnson
At present, the fifth most powerful woman in the world is Boston, Massachusetts’ own Abigail Johnson. The 57-year-old businesswoman is Fidelity Investments chief executive officer (CEO) – a position she has held since 2014. The Harvard grad is also a chairman of Fidelity International, which is Fidelity Investments' sister organization. Johnson is the granddaughter of the company's founder and owns around 25% of the organization.
In 2016, she was given full control of the Fidelity brand. Besides running a multi-trillion dollar company, Johnson is in charge of around 45,000 employees spanning the globe. The CEO is easily one of the top businesswomen in the game.
9 Wealthy: Susanne Klatten
Susanne Klatten is wealthiest German-born woman in the world. The native of Bad Homburg vor der Hohe is worth somewhere between $21 and 18.8 billion dollars. She is an heiress and the granddaughter of an industrialist named Gunther Quandt. For those unfamiliar, Quandt is credited with building a business empire which now includes high-profile companies like Altana AG and BMW.
When her father, Herbert Quandt, passed away Klatten inherited a 50.1% stake in Altana AG – a multi-billion dollar chemical company. She also inherited a 12.50% of German car company, BMW. These massive holdings have helped make the 57-year-old the fifth richest female on the planet.
8 Powerful: Mary Barra
Royal Oak, Michigan’s Marry Barra is a businesswoman who has made plenty of headlines in recent years as the CEO of multi-billion dollar car manufacturer General Motors (GM). The Stanford University graduate has been the company’s chief executive officer since January of 2014. By accepting the role, she became the first female CEO of a major automobile brand. Since 2017, she has also served as a board member for The Walt Disney Company.
Under her leadership, the automaker sold a record 10 million vehicles back in 2016. As GM’s head honcho, the 57-year old oversees around 173,000 employees in over 37 countries.
7 Wealthy: Yang Huiyan
Yang Huiyan was born in Shunde, Guangdong, China, and has gone on to become the wealthiest woman in all of Asia. The Ohio State Alumni is a property developer by trade, but the majority of her wealth comes from her father, Yang Guoqiang. Guoqiang founded the property development organization known as County Garden Group and transferred 70% of the company to his daughter before the company’s IPO in 2007.
Country Garden would become a massively successful endeavor. As of 2018, the real estate group has over $161 billion in total assets. As the majority owner, Yang Huiyan has a net worth of around $21.2 billion.
6 Powerful: Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde is a lawyer who originally hails from Paris, France. She is a former Chairman of the International Monetary Fund but stepped down to further her career by becoming president of the European Central Bank. Assuming she is confirmed by the Europen Council this coming October, Lagarde will become the first female to head the European Central Bank (ECB).
As president, she would play a key role in setting the monetary policy within the Eurozone – a momentary union that includes 19 countries. In all likelihood, the 57-year-old will play an even bigger role in establishing monetary policy in a large portion of Europe.
5 Wealthy: Jacqueline Mars
Jacqueline Mars is an heiress whose grandfather, Frank C. Mars, founded Mars Incorporated back in 1911. While her grandfather started the company, it was her father, Forrest Mars Sr., that made it the candy empire it is today. Forrest Mars introduced iconic candies like Milky Way, Mars (the candy bar), and M&M’s. He was also the man behind Uncle Ben’s Rice.
These days, it’s Jacqueline Mars, who holds a significant share of the company her family built. The 79-year-old Bryn Mawr College graduate is worth roughly 23.3 billion dollars. This massive fortune makes her the third wealthiest woman alive.
4 Powerful: Theresa May
Teresa May is one of the most influential British politicians of her generation. The self-described one-nation conservative is best known for serving as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from July of 2016 to July of 2019. Prior to becoming Prime Minister, May served as Home Secretary as was also a Member of Parliament. The Oxford graduate spent decades in the financial sector before entering the world of politics.
As the leader of one of the most prosperous nations in the world, May wielded a great deal of power during her time in office. Though she is no longer Prime Minister, the 62-year-old remains a very influential figure.
3 Wealthy: Alice Walton
Alice Walton is a billionaire heiress who out of Newport, Arkansas. Her father was Sam Walton, the founder of the successful retail chain known as Walmart. Walmart Inc is a retail corporation and publicly traded company that currently has over $219 billion in net assets and has over 2.2 million employees worldwide.
Ther heiress to the Walton family fortune graduated from Trinity University with a bachelors degree in economics. Her degree likely helped her manage her considerable fortune. Walton owns $11 billion in Walmart shares and is worth an estimated $47 billion – making her the second wealthiest woman walking the face of the Earth.
2 Powerful: Angela Merkel
Hamburg, Germany’s Angela Merkel is (at least according to Forbes) the most powerful woman in the world. She is an internationally known politician who has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005. In 2007, she also served as President of the European Council and was one of the key players behind both the Berlin Declaration and the Treaty of Lisbon.
Merkel's sphere of influence reaches far beyond the nation she governs. In fact, the 65-year-old is widely considered to be the unofficial leader and driving force behind the European Union. This de facto leadership role is one of the primary reasons she considered such an influential world player.
1 Wealthy: Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
The world’s wealthiest woman is Francoise Bettencourt Meyers who was born in Neuilly-Sur Seine, France. She is an heiress and author who covers topics like Jewish-Christian relations. Her family owns the world’s largest cosmetics company, L’Oreal, which is where the overwhelming majority of Bettencourt’s money comes from. She was the only daughter of principal L’Oreal shareholder Liliane Bettencourt, who passed away in September of 2017. Her mother left her a fortune worth an estimated $39.5 billion.
With a net worth of $53.2 billion, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is extremely wealthy, to say the least. In fact, the 66-year-old is one of the twenty wealthiest humans alive.