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BusinessInternational Women's Day: these are the executives who lead the largest companies...

International Women’s Day: these are the executives who lead the largest companies in Europe, according to Fortune

Although the gender gap in companies is still a pending issue and the number of female CEOs remains low, women are increasingly successfully leading projects that were previously only led by men. Along these lines, a recent Fortune report reveals the executives who lead the largest companies in Europe. The presence of three Spaniards stands out on the list.

For the report, the economic media selected a list of female leaders at the head of European companies, aged 55 or over. To do this, they were based on the data collected in ‘Fortune 500 Europe’ and ‘Most Powerful Women’.

Among the results, we can see the presence of senior executives in all industries (from raw materials to financial services and pharmaceuticals). However, there are an unacceptably low number of female CEOs in Europe, according to the report, only 7% of companies are run by women.

Fortune’s list is made up of:

Hilde Merete Aasheim, CEO of Norsk Hydro

Hilde Merete Aasheim is a true jack of all trades. She has run the Norwegian aluminum and energy giant Norsk Hydro since 2019, steering you through the ups and downs of demand and price volatility in times of pandemic. She started as an accountant and rose through the ranks over 35 years working in a variety of roles, from human resources to senior management. Aasheim, who is now Hydro’s CEO and president, has been with the company for almost 20 years. Hydro was ranked 173rd on the Fortune 500 Europe list and Aasheim was ranked 60th on the Most Powerful Women list.

Belén Garijo, CEO of Merck KGaA

Garijo’s journey began as a doctor in Spain. Eventually, that led her to a meeting room. She is now one of the few female CEOs in the giant chemicals and life sciences sector, and It is the first in Merck, 355 years old. He also sits on the board of French beauty giant L’Oréal.

Garijo has been honored for her achievements in promoting gender diversity. More than a third of Merck’s top leaders are women. Merck was ranked 165 on the Fortune 500 Europe and Garijo ranked 30th on the list of the most powerful women.

Dominique Senequier, CEO of Ardian

Leading one of Europe’s largest private equity firms is no small feat, Fortune notes. Senequier rose to fame when founded the private equity arm of insurance firm AXA in 1996. That eventually morphed into Ardian in 2013, and is now a sprawling 1,050-person operation. But Senequier’s pioneering journey began much earlier, when she was one of seven admitted to the Polytechnic School’s first intake for women in 1972.

Ardian, under the leadership of the French private equity veteran, is committed to attracting more women to this finance niche. The proportion of the company’s new hires who were women was 42% last year. Senequier ranked 66th on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list in 2023.

Margherita Della Valle, CEO of Vodafone

Della Valle has spent most of his life, more than 30 years, at Vodafone. In that time, he has worked in a variety of roles, from marketing to finance.

She was the group’s financial director for several years before becoming CEO in 2023. The Italian-born Economics graduate is among the nine FTSE 100 companies run by women. Della Valle was ranked 36th on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in 2023 list.

Ana Botín, president of Santander and member of the board of directors of The Coca-Cola Company

Ana Botín has banking in her blood. She replaced her father and took over as executive president of Banco Santander, one of the largest banks in Europe, in 2014. Botín is the fourth generation of the family to lead the company. Botín is, in every sense, a banking expert, having spent her entire career working in the industry since she started at JPMorgan in New York in 1980.

She has scaled the bank to new heights, establishing it as a multinational giant while expanding the presence of women at board and senior leadership levels. Booty is too member of the board of directors of The Coca-Cola Company. Botín was ranked 19th on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in 2023 list.

Barbara Martin Coppola, CEO of Decathlon

Martin Coppola has lived and worked in nine countries. Her corporate pedigree includes Google and Ikea, before taking the top job at French sports retailer Decathlon in 2022. She is the first female CEO of the family business and the first externally hired boss.

She is an expert in business development and digital expansion, two elements she hopes will propel Decathlon to new heights. In Martin Coppola’s first year as CEO, Decathlon sales grew by 12% annuallybut that’s not all, the number of women in senior leadership positions doubled.

The Decathlon CEO was ranked 61st on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in 2023 list.


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