ADVICE

What did Hershey’s CEO and other Fortune 500 female leaders study?

SOURCE: Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP
Iconic American company, The Hershey Company, has a female leader at its helm.


By U2B Staff 

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Who run the world? Girls!” These lyrics from American singer Beyoncé Knowles is a nod to female empowerment for aspiring female leaders everywhere.

The revelrous anthem can also serve as a reflection of the corporate world where we’re seeing a growing number of women holding senior management positions.

Non-profit organisation Catalyst, for instance, said the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 29% last year, the highest number ever recorded. In 2020, this percentage remains the same.

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The company, which promotes inclusive workplaces for women and business, adds that 87% of global mid-market companies have at least one woman in a senior management role in 2020.

While glass ceilings are being broken, female leaders still have a long way to go for a gender equitable workplace. 

According to Fortune, 37 of America’s largest corporations on this year’s Fortune 500 list are run by women,  beating last year’s 33.

While 37 female leaders at the helm of these corporations account for only 7.4% of the total, twenty years ago, only two of these businesses were female-led, they said.

In the past four years, the growth of women in top leadership roles accelerated past 30 — a general upwards trend, with dips along the way.

Most of the women helming America’s top organisations have obtained an MBA from some of the top business schools in the US.  

Mary T. Barra

Barra is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at General Motors, and is the first female CEO of a major automaker. 

GM notes that under Barra’s leadership, GM envisions a world with zero crashes, to save lives; zero emissions, so future generations can inherit a healthier planet; and zero congestion, so customers get back a precious commodity – time.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. 

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Gail K. Boudreaux

female leaders
Boudreaux was named CEO of Anthem in 2017. Source: Anthem

Boudreaux is the President and CEO of Anthem, Inc., a Fortune 50 company and leading health benefits provider.

Her corporate profile notes that throughout her more than three decades in the healthcare industry, the 60-year-old has established an outstanding record of successfully leading multi-billion-dollar businesses. 

She has held many senior positions prior to her current role.

Boudreaux earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in psychology from Dartmouth College and an MBA with distinction from Columbia Business School.

Michele Buck

female leaders
Buck has held several senior leadership roles within the company. Source: The Hershey Company

Hershey products are known for delighting the palates of many around the world, and to make things a little sweeter, Buck became The Hershey Company’s first female President and CEO in 2017.

Her career with the confections company spans across 15 years.

She has a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) in Business Administration and Management, General from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania as well as an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Safra A. Catz has served as chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation since 2014 and a member of the company’s board of directors since 2001. She previously served as president of Oracle and has also served as the company’s chief financial officer. 

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Michelle Gass

Gass is CEO at Kohl’s Corporation, an American department store retail chain targeted to middle-income customers.

Prior to Kohl’s, she spent over 16 years with Starbucks Corporation holding a variety of leadership roles across marketing, global strategy, and merchandising.

She earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from the University of Washington.