15 Indian female CEOs and MDs who lead global companies

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A brigade of female CEOs and MDs from India inspire generations of women to dream big and strive to achieve their goals. From Vimeo to Tinder, global businesses today are led by a powerful group of Indian and ethnic Indian women.

Indian female CEOs and MDs who run major global companies

Leena Nair, CEO of Chanel

An Electronics Engineering graduate from Sangli’s Walchand College of Engineering and Management Gold Medalist from XLRI, Jamshedpur, Nair held the No. 1 spot at French luxury fashion house Chanel in January 2022. Nair was Director of Human Resources at British Consumer-goods packaged food giant Unilever PLC before joining Chanel. She was the first female, first Asian and youngest human resources director at Unilever. Nair has always been a champion of change and a strong believer in equality and inclusiveness. She received the 2021 Great Britain Businesswoman Model of the Year award.

Roshni Nadar, President, HCL

As President of HCL Technologies and CEO of HCL Corporation, Nadar is the first woman to lead a listed information technology company in India. She is also the president of VidyaGyan, a leadership academy for economically disadvantaged and deserving rural students. In this role, she nurtures the future leaders of rural India. Nadar is also passionate about wildlife and conservation and established The Habitats Trust in 2018. She has a communications degree from Northwestern University and earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

Sharmistha Dubey, CEO Match Group

Dubey is responsible for the dating revolution in millennials. She is the driving force behind the Match Group, which owns online dating platforms like Tinder, Match, OkCupid and Hinge. She grew up in Jamshedpur and pursued metallurgical engineering studies at IIT Kharagpur. She began her career as an engineer at Texas Instruments. Her journey with the Match Group began in 2006, where she held several roles. She was named chief operating officer of Tinder in 2017. Dubey is currently the chief executive officer of Match Group. She was chosen as Tech Leader of the Year at Vogue Women of The Year 2021.

Revathi Advaithi, CEO, Flex

Named to Fortune’s 2019 and 2020 Most Powerful Women list, Advaithi began her career as a shop supervisor at Eaton’s in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She joined Flex, formerly known as Flextronics as CEO in 2019. She is known to be a quick decision maker. Advaithi is also an independent director on the boards of Uber and Catalyst. An advocate for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, Advaithi is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council to the CEO of MIT.

Amrapali Gan, CEO, OnlyFans

Gan was appointed Managing Director of OnlyFans in December 2021. OnlyFans is a subscription-based platform that helps content creators earn money from users who subscribe to their content. Prior to being promoted to the top seat, Gan held the position of Director of Marketing and Communications at OnlyFans. Born in Mumbai, Gan served as a brand communications manager at Quest Nutrition. She also helped the first cannabis restaurant in the United States as vice president of marketing.

Jayshree Ullal, CEO, Arista Networks

As CEO and President of US computer networking company Arista Networks, Ullal led the company to a historic and successful IPO and built it into a multi-billion dollar business. Born in London, Ullal joined Arista in 2008 after working at Cisco for over 15 years. She has also been a member of the Snowflake Board of Directors since 2020. She was included in the Forbes list of richest self-made women in America 2021. Ullal studied Electrical Engineering at San Francisco State University and did her Masters in Engineering Management at Santa Clara University in California.

Sonia Syngal, CEO, Gap Inc.

Born in India and raised in the United States and Canada, Syngal propels GAP Inc to new heights as CEO. She is one of the few female CEOs to make the Fortune 500 list. Prior to joining GAP Inc in 2004, Syngal worked at Sun Microsystems and Ford Motor Co. She studied mechanical engineering at Kettering University and has received her master’s degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Stanford University in 1995. She is credited with using graphic t-shirts by Gap Inc as a platform for young women to have their voices heard.

Anjali Sud, CEO, Vimeo

Sud worked as Managing Director and Head of Marketing at Vimeo before being promoted to Managing Director of the video platform in 2017. She holds a B.Sc. in Finance and Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and studied MBA at Harvard Business School. Born in Michigan to Indian immigrant parents, Sud has also worked at companies like Amazon, Time Warner and Sagent Advisors. She is designated a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Priya Lakhani, CEO, Century Tech

Lakhani does exemplary work in the field of AI-based learning technologies and tools for schools and colleges. She founded Century Tech in 2013 after being hit by underachievement rates in schools. She is also co-founder of The Institute for Ethical AI in Education. She left a career in law to follow her passion for business. Lakhani holds an LLM from the University of London. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2014. She was also appointed to the UK Government’s AI Council in 2019.

Padmasree Warrior, CEO, Fable

Warrior’s Linkedin biography describes her as a leader with a passion for technology, entrepreneurship, and global business. She founded Fable, a curated reading platform focused on mental wellness in 2019. She has also worked as a chief technology officer at Cisco and Motorola. She served as CEO of NIO USA, an electric car company. She grew up in Vijayawada. Warrior studied Chemical Engineering at IIT Delhi and did his Masters at Cornell University. She featured in Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, President and CEO, Biocon

Shaw is a first generation entrepreneur and global business leader with over 4 decades of biotechnology experience. She founded Biocon in 1978 from her garage in India. One of the most famous women in the country, she is proud to have received the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards. Shaw was awarded the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2020 and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year India Award in 2019. She studied B.Sc. Zoology Hons at Bangalore University and completed a postgraduate degree in malting and brewing at the Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education in Melbourne, Australia.

Reshma Kewalramani, CEO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Mumbai-born Kewalramani became the first female CEO of a major US biotech company Vertex Pharmaceuticals. She immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 11 years old. A graduate of Harvard Business School’s General Management program, Kewalrmani began her career as a physician. She worked in the biopharma industry for 12 years before joining Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 2017. She was named President and CEO in 2020-21. She received the TiE Boston Healthcare Leadership Award. She was also named one of Boston Business Journal Power 50.

Aruna Jayanthi, MD, Capgemini Canada and Latin America

Image: Aruna Jayanthi/Linkedin

Jayanthi currently leads Capgemini’s business in Canada and Latin America. She was also CEO of Capgemini India and held several senior positions within the company. She has worked at Capgemini since the early 2000s and was part of the core team that initiated and set up the offshore capabilities. She has also served as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Calicut National Institute of Technology, Independent Director of SBI Capital Markets, and Member of the Executive Council of Nasscom. Jayanthi has been recognized as the most powerful woman in India by business today. She got the 4th position in Fortune India’s 50 Most Powerful Indian Women list.

Vanitha Narayanan, MD, IBM India

Named one of the most powerful women by fortune india and business today, Vanitha Narayanan is credited with making India one of the fastest growing markets for IBM. She also served as president of IBM from 2017 to 2018. Currently, she is the general manager of the IBM-Verizon relationship. She works closely with NITI Aayog on formulating policies to prepare students for industry. She was also President of the American Chamber of Commerce in India and a member of the Executive Council of NASSCOM.

Neelam Dhawan, MD, HP India

Indian CEOs
Image: Neelam Dhawan/Linkedin

Dhawan manages revenue and profitability responsibility nationwide as Managing Director of Hewlett-Packard India. His job also includes ensuring the leverage of HP services, personal systems, and imaging and printing businesses. She studied economics at St Stephen’s College, Delhi. She pursued an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi. Dhawan also served as Managing Director of Microsoft India from 2005 to 2008. She started her career in 1982 and has over 38 years of experience in the IT industry.

Image courtesy of Leena Nair/Linkedin

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