Top Influential Business Women in Business History

When you think of successful businesswomen, you probably think of women like Madam Walker. Not only was she inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, but she even got her stamp in 1998. The United States Postal Service even issued a stamp commemorating her in their Black Heritage series. However, many other inspiring business women made their mark in business, industry, and entrepreneurship. These are just a few of them.

Nicole Junkermann Mary Barra

Nicole Junkermann Mary Barra are two businesswomen who have risen to the top of their field by demonstrating entrepreneurial skills and intelligent leadership. In a world where women are considered less than male role models, these women are shining examples of what it takes to succeed in business. Their respective experiences have taught them how to overcome adversity and achieve their goals.

Diane Hendricks

The entrepreneur, investor, and role model, Diane Hendricks, became a multi-millionaire at 38. She grew up on a dairy farm and later married her “first love” at age 17. Although her work schedule was irregular, she was in the perfect position to sell custom-made houses. Her business acumen made her a highly-profitable and highly productive individual. She married Ken Hendricks in 1975, and the two have five children together. During this time, she has been able to focus on a single career, including studying to get a real estate broker’s license.

Estee Lauder

A New York City native, Estee Lauder, grew up in a small apartment and was soon able to move to Miami Beach to start her own cosmetics company. She began selling her cosmetics to vacationers and encouraged them to tell their friends about her products. Lauder’s ambitions to expand the company led to severe strains in her marriage. In the 1930s, the couple moved to Miami Beach, Florida, where they expanded their business and met their first son, Leonard Allen. Joseph Lauder took over the financial side of the business, but Estee continued to run the marketing.

Catherine Anslem Gleason

Mary Gleason began working in her father’s tool-making company when she was only eleven. Before returning to the family tool-making business, she attended Cornell University for a short time. She became the company’s treasurer and saleswoman, and in 1893, she left Cornell to join the tool-making firm in Rochester. She travelled to Europe and Asia, and her business represented the firm worldwide. Her firm now has more than half of its business overseas.

Caterina Fake

A successful entrepreneur, Caterina Fake is best known for co-founding the photo-sharing website Flickr and the collaborating decision-making platform Hunch. EBay bought the hunch for $80 million in 2011. Fake was also a chairwoman of the Etsy website and a trustee of various nonprofit organizations. She received an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Visionary Award from the Silicon Valley Forum.

Anna Sutherland Bissell

In 1922, Anna Sutherland Bissell became the first woman CEO of a major corporation in the United States. She was the president and executive board member of the Bissell Corporation, a company famous for its carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners. Anna became one of the most influential businesswomen in history and is now known for her pioneering policies in the field of women and business.

Carol Tome

Carol Tome has been the Chief Financial Officer of The Home Depot since May 2001 and was named executive vice president of corporate services in January 2007. She oversees the company’s real estate, financial services, and strategic business development. Before joining The Home Depot, Tome served as a commercial lender for the United Bank of Denver. She also spent several years as a director of banking for Johns-Manville Corporation. Tome’s other recent roles include the chair of the UPS audit committee and a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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