Women can become leaders in any field. They can empower themselves and rise to every challenge. And, these ten ladies are showing us how.
My mission in life is to empower women of all ages to help them realise that they have the potential to do amazing things.
So many women struggle under the weight of oppression. They see nobody who looks like them in leadership roles and they develop the belief that they can’t create better lives for themselves.
That belief will only hold you back and stop you from achieving the amazing things that you’re capable of.
I want you to overcome that belief. And to show you that it’s possible, I look to the HERoes Future Female Leaders. Compiled every year, this list of amazing female leaders celebrates the women who’ve overcome adversity. It lauds those who’ve learned to love their obstacles on their way to becoming the leaders of tomorrow.
And today, they serve as inspirations for us all.
The women I’ll profile here made the Top 10 of the 2019 version of the list. And each one of them has an amazing story to share with you.
#10 Lejla Sehic
Born in Bosnia, Lejla Sehic is now one of the highest achieving young executives in the United States. She started as a member of the IMPACT project, and then she became a mentor.
Today, she is the president of BNY Mellon's IMPACT BRG project in Pittsburgh. Her focus is on hiring and maintaining a multi-cultural team. She is the project's COO, as well. She is in charge of global support and governance.
Lejla Sehic is also an active mentor for WIN (Women's Initiative Network) members. She is also one of the co-creators of WIN GROW, a mentoring program that helps women reach leading positions.
Ms. Sehic also mentors girls from Africa and Asia through SHIM. Her focus is on girls who want to go into STEM.
#9 Shelina Janmohamed
Shelina Janmohamed works at ad and PR agency Ogilvy. Her current position is vice president, and she is in charge of Islamic marketing. She participates in Ogilvy events that focus on women. Her role is to ensure the presence of women through her leadership. Also, she is among the most notable speakers at Ogilvy.
Shelina is a role model for all aspiring women entering the world of business. At Ogilvy, she provides mentoring to women who want to achieve more in business. I feel a deep kinship with Shelina for this very reason. Much like me, she comes from a background that doesn’t always empower women. But she’s spent her whole life overcoming obstacles and she now helps others do the same.
#8 Magdalene Pedersen
Magdalene Pedersen held several board and executive positions throughout her career. Currently, she is field vice president at GlaxoSmithKline, in charge of sales. She has also been the leader of GSK's Women's Leadership Initiative since 2014.
With Magdalene, the Women's Leadership Initiative grew from 1,500 to more than 6,000 members. Also, the initiative went from 6 to over 20 chapters during her tenure.
To further help the initiative, Magdalene worked with the company's key stakeholders. She helped the team create the Global Gender Council. The council aims to increase gender diversity in the company.
Magdalene Pedersen also persuaded GSK to partner with the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association. The company was one of the original 11 signees of the Gender Parity Collaborative.
Outside of GSK, Magdalene also helped the HBA (Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association) come to the United Kingdom. She also helped with the organization’s expansion to other European countries.
#7 Katherine (Katia) Ramo
Katherine (Katia) Ramo is one of the most prominent advocates for diversity in the world. She speaks at events that support diversity and leads several diversity networks. Katia is also an active mentor in the field.
The United Nations often seek Katherine's advice on gender equality and disability. She is also active in CMS Law’s Women in Business and other similar organizations. Her life’s work revolves around helping women to learn to love their obstacles and use them as the launching pad for future success.
Katherine co-founded CMS Enable (Disability & Wellbeing Network), a prominent pro-diversity organization. She is the current chair.
At the Women in Law Summit of last year, Katherine gave a moving speech on diversity and similar issues. She was a panellist at the Law Society International Symposium as well in the year past. Finally, Katherine took part in the First 100 Years Project that celebrated a century of women in law.
#6 Melisa Turano
All women can help bring positive change to the world. But the ones working in the biggest companies can have the most significant impact. Melisa Turano is the head of sales at HSBC, one of the world's leading investment banks. Her influence is immeasurable.
Aside from that, Melisa is also the leader of the company's group for gender employment named BALANCE. The group aims to create and maintain gender-balanced staff within the company. Group membership increased several times since Melisa took over.
The group recently organized inspirational meetings with the company's female executives. Also, the group held a workshop for female entrepreneurs from low-income areas. They also organized a workshop for students. The themes were gender pay inequality and workplace inclusivity.
#5 Sarah Rench
There aren't many women in the STEM field today, even though the numbers are growing. The situation in the top echelons is still far from ideal. But Sarah Rench has helped break many stereotypes in the field.
Sarah Rench is the leader of the advanced analytics, robotics, and AI division of Ernst & Young (EY). Her position gives Sarah a unique chance to change the STEM field to the better. And, she is doing a terrific job at it.
Sarah encourages women and minorities to enter STEM and related fields. Within the company, she holds various coding boot camps. She is also a member of DevelopHer and Cass Global Women's Leaders Programme boards.
In 2018, Sarah helped five co-workers to create virtual agents, which went on to help Sarah train 200 employees.
#4 Lin Yue
Lin Yue is a director at one of the world's most admired investment companies, Goldman Sachs. And, Lin has been able to use her significant influence to help women inside and outside the company. She spoke at events for the MuLan Foundation, EY and Linklaters, and many others. She even spoke before the House of Lords in the British parliament.
At present, Lin is creating a network that will help women break the glass ceiling. The organization will focus on both Western and Chinese women alike.
Lin received many prestigious awards in recent years, both in the East and the West. Most notably, EMPower named her one of the 50 ethnic minority leaders of the future.
Lin owes so much to the supportive family that empowered her as she grew up. Her grandmother and mother are the two biggest influences in her life. They taught her that she did not need to subscribe to a life of accepted incompetence.
She could be so much more.
#3 Nilufar Anwar
Nilufar Anwar currently works at Salesforce as a corporate legal counsel. She advocates for the empowerment of women in the company and redresses equality challenges. Nilufar advises the company about strategies for attracting and keeping promising female employees.
She mentors women in the company to inspire them to make their impact. Nilufar also works with women outside the company who want to contribute to the change.
Nilufar leads the board at #techmums, an enterprise that empowers mothers and their families. It does so through education in technology. #techmums has grown quickly under Nilufar's leadership, thanks to her community-based methods.
Nilufar and #techmums’ founder were the key influences when selected by Nominet Trust for the MUMSCONNECTED initiative. That’s an initiative that aims to help disadvantaged mums by teaching them valuable tech skills. Nilufar helped with the capitalization and making key contacts.
#2 Stephanie Matthews
Stephanie Matthews currently works at Virgin. As a member of the gender employee resource team, she led the application of inclusive guides for recruitment. The team created the new recruitment guides to level the field for female applicants.
In doing so, the team introduced gender-neutral terms and eliminated unconscious bias. Also, the team recommended the inclusion of salary ranges in the guide forms.
Beyond her work at Virgin, Stephanie also presides over the women's network Bloom UK. The network supports change through honesty, vulnerability, and realness. Its Real Voices strategy relies on education, mentoring, as well as networking.
In 2019, Bloom UK partnered with The Book of Man, gaining substantial male support for the cause. The cooperation resulted in The Exchange, a cross-mentoring program.
#1 Kemi Adetu
Kemi Adetu is one of the most prominent advocates for gender equality and diversity. She is a part of Standard Chartered's Gender Engagement Network, an HR team that tackles gender problems. She was a key participant in talks with the company's leaders about gender balance in internship and graduate programs.
But Kemi's work didn't stop there. She spoke in front of her international class to the company's managers about the positive sides of diverse teams. She also spoke about how to attract and keep female employees that make a difference.
Recently, Kemi joined the company's Diversity & Inclusion Council in the United States. Her mission is to help create a diverse and inclusive working environment throughout the firm. Together with her colleagues, Kemi designs and executes programs and projects that help women. With a particular focus on connecting, learning, and growing opportunities for women.
Women Can Lead
Women are making big strides in the business arena. Every year, more and more women reach the top positions in their companies. Unfortunately, the situation is still far from ideal, although changes are visible. But even bigger changes are coming in the future.
That said, the progress achieved thus far shows that women can empower themselves. It shows that they can succeed in anything. Women can lead, and these brave ladies are showing everyone the way.
The industry doesn't matter. Women can succeed in law, STEM, finance, and any other field.
Are you ready for more messages of empowerment?
Contact Sarifa Younes to transform your next speaking event.