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Kamala Harris, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Nirmala Sitharaman Among Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

Kamala Harris, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Nirmala Sitharaman Among Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women

  • The 19th edition of the annual list places Harris at number 3, India’s Finance Minister Sitharaman at 36, and Bangladesh's Prime Minister at 42.

Vice President Kamala Devi Harris, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed are among the ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ of 2022. Harris is ranked third on the list, described by Forbes as “a collection of women who are fighting the status quo,” while Sitharaman is in the 36th spot, and Wajed is 42nd. The 19th annual edition of the list, released today (Dec. 6), is led by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, European Union and Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, in the first two spots. 

Joining Harris is another Indian American — Bela Bajaria, head of Global TV at Netflix. Several trailblazing entrepreneurs from India are also named in the coveted list. They include Madhabi Puri Buch, chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Board of India; Soma Mondal, chairperson of Steel Authority of India; Roshni Nader Malhotra, CEO of HCL; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chair of Biocon; and Falguni Nayar, founder and CEO, Nykaa. 

Kamala Devi Harris

This January, Kamala Devi Harris, 58, made history by becoming the first woman, the first Black person, and the first South Asian American U.S. vice president. No stranger to breaking the glass ceiling, she became the first Indian American woman to be elected to the United States Senate in 2016. Before that in 2010, she became the first African American and the first woman to serve as California’s attorney general. A California native, she was born in Oakland to immigrant parents from India and Jamaica.

Ranked 36th on the list is Nirmala Sitharaman, 62, who was appointed India’s finance minister in May 2019, becoming the country’s first full-time female finance minister. She is also the minister of corporate affairs. Before her career in politics, Sitharaman held roles at the U.K.-based Agricultural Engineers Association and BBC World Service. She has also served as a member of the National Commission for Women.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Joining these two women politicians is Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed. The longest-serving prime minister in the history of the country, she is currently serving her fourth term. Forbes notes that this is her third consecutive term, after her party, Bangladesh Awami League, won 288 of the 300 parliamentary seats “During what she believes will be her final term, she plans to focus on issues such as food security and access to education and healthcare,” the magazine says, adding that “an ongoing struggle for Hasina, 75, has been establishing a firm democracy in Bangladesh.

Bela Bajaria

Bela Bajaria, 51, was named the head of Global TV for Netflix in 2020. The role puts her in charge of all of the streamer’s scripted and unscripted series around the world. She is responsible for hits including Bridgerton, The Queen’s Gambit, Lupin and Cobra Kai. Before joining Netflix in 2016, Bajaria was president of Universal Television. There she made history as the first woman of color to oversee a studio. Bajaria was named to TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list in 2022. “Bela is helping create the future of television,” actor and producer Mindy Kaling wrote for the magazine.

Madhabi Puri Buch

This March, Madhabi Puri Buch, 56, became the first female chair of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which oversees India’s more than $3 trillion stock market ecosystem. Before joining SEBI, Puri Buch consulted for the New Development Bank in Shanghai and worked as a managing director and CEO at ICICI Securities.

Early this year, Soma Mondal, 59, became the first woman to chair the state-run Steel Authority of India (SAIL). She has led the steelmaker to record financial growth since taking over: the company’s profits surged threefold to 120 billion rupees in her first year at the helm. Mondal first became a director for the company in 2017. She’s responsible for launching an 80,000-million-rupee effort to expand production capacity. She has more than three decades of experience in the metals industry. After graduating from college with a degree in electrical engineering, she joined the state-run National Aluminium Co.

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Roshni Nadar Malhotra

HCL Corporation CEO Roshni Nadar Malhotra is the youngest Indian woman on the list. The 41-year-old “is responsible for all strategic decisions for the $9.9 billion technology company,” Forbes says. Founded by her father, Shiv Nadar, in 1976, HCL became a central player in India’s rise as an IT hub. Malhotra took HCL’s chairperson role from her father in July 2020. She is a trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, which is focused on education and has established some of India’s top colleges and schools.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, 69, is one of India’s richest self-made women. She founded Biocon, India’s largest listed biopharmaceutical firm by revenue, in 1978. The firm has successfully forayed into the lucrative U.S. market. The company has Asia’s largest insulin factory in Malaysia’s Johor region. In September 2021, vaccine billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla’s Serum Institute of India agreed to acquire a 15% stake in Biocon Biologics, a Biocon subsidiary. In February 2022, Biocon Biologics inked a deal to acquire the biosimilars business of Viatris for $3.3 billion. In June 2022, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested a Biocon Biologics executive and four others in an alleged bribery case. The company denied any wrongdoing.

Falguni Nayar

Former investment banker Falguni Nayar, 59, quit her job to start Nykaa, a retailer of beauty products in 2012. Nykaa’s marquee investors include U.S. private equity giant TPG Growth as well as billionaires Harsh Mariwala and Harry Banga. Nykaa, which means “one in the spotlight,” currently sells more than 4,500 brands online as well through more than 100 stores across India. Nayar took Nykaa public in November 2021, becoming India’s richest self-made female entrepreneur in the process. Her twin daughter and son both work in the business and have board seats.

Shemara Wikramanayake

Also included in the powerful women list is Australia-based Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO and managing director of Macquarie Group. The 60-year-old assumed her current role in December 2018, after joining the company in 1987. She worked within Macquarie Capital for 20 years until being appointed as head of Macquarie Asset Management in 2008. Wikramanayake has two sons, and has been open about how her husband, a former investment banker, helped make her career possible by staying at home. She was born in the U.K. and was raised there and in Sri Lanka before immigrating to Australia with her parents when she was 13.

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