- Joining these dynamic women is new newcomer Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s former chair and CEO, ranked 91.
Five Indian American women are in the Forbes list of ‘America’s Richest Self-Made Women,’ with fortunes built-in fintech, biotechnology, IT, solar energy, online education, and more. “The fortunes of the nation’s richest self-made women soared 31% in our seventh annual ranking to $118 billion, amid a stock market boom,” Forbes says, noting that “not even a worldwide pandemic stopped women entrepreneurs and executives from making their mark during the past year.”
Among the 15 newcomers featured in the list is PepsiCo’s former chair and CEO Indra Nooyi, ranked 91. Others on the list include Jayshree Ullal, president, and CEO of Arista Networks (16); Neerja Sethi, co-founder, Syntel (26); Neha Narkhede, co-founder and former chief technology officer of Confluent (29); and Reshma Shetty, co-founder Gingko Bioworks (39).
The London-born, India-raised Ullal, has been heading Arista Networks, a computer networking firm, since 2008, Born in London and raised in India, she is one of America’s wealthiest female executives. The publicly traded company recorded revenue of $2.3 billion in 2020, a decrease of nearly 4 percent compared to the fiscal year 2019. Ullal, 60, of Saratoga, California, owns about 5 percent of Arista’s stock, some of which is earmarked for her two children, niece, and nephew. She joined the board of directors of Snowflake, a cloud computing company that went public in September 2020. Ullal studied electrical engineering at San Francisco State University and engineering management at Santa Clara University.
Sethi, 66, co-founded the IT consulting and outsourcing firm Syntel with her husband Bharat Desai in 1980 in their apartment in Troy, Michigan. French IT firm Atos SE bought Syntel for $3.4 billion in October 2018. Sethi got an estimated $510 million for her stake, Sethi, who had served as an executive at Syntel since 1980, did not join Atos after the acquisition. Sethi met her husband in the U.S. while working for pioneering IT firm Tata Consulting Services, which they attempted to emulate. The couple started the business with an initial investment of just $2,000.
Narkhede, 36, is co-founder and former chief technology officer of cloud company Confluent. As a LinkedIn software engineer, she helped develop the open-source messaging system Apache Kafka to handle the networking site’s huge influx of data. In 2014, she and two LinkedIn colleagues left to found Confluent, which helps organizations process large amounts of data on Apache Kafka. The $237 million (revenues) company went public in June 2021 at a $9.1 billion valuation; she and her family own around 8 percent. Narkhede, who grew up in Pune, India, studied Computer Science at Georgia Tech and today advises numerous technology startups.
Shetty co-founded Gingko Bioworks, a synthetic biotechnology company, in 2009 with four others, including her husband Barry Canton. The 41-year-old received a Ph.D. in biological engineering at MIT, where she met Ginkgo Bioworks’ other co-founders. The company, named after a dinosaur-era tree, uses data analytics and robotics to speed up the process of discovering and making new organisms. It is slated to go public in a $17.5 billion SPAC deal. “As Covid-19 spread, the company opened its Boston facilities for research into the coronavirus and to ramp up testing for the disease,” Forbes says.
Nooyi, PepsiCo’s former chair and CEO, retired in 2019 after 24 years with the company, half of which she spent in the top job. Her fortune stems from the stock she was granted while working at PepsiCo.As CEO, she thwarted a bid to break up PepsiCo, nearly doubled sales, and introduced healthier products and environmentally friendly practices. Nooyi joined the board of Amazon in 2019. Nooyi grew up in India and got an MBA from Yale before becoming one of corporate America’s few female CEOs in 2006.