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5 Inspiring Female Leaders 2021 & Their Most Notable Achievements

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Female leadership is getting momentum across the globe! In 2021 world has witnessed a number of female leaders emerging who worked very hard to achieve incredible goals. Womenlines takes pleasure to share about 5 inspiring female leaders from across the globe, who have set examples that nothing is impossible if you set your heart to your vision.

1. Özlem Türeci

Chief Medical Officer of BioNTech

Özlem Türeci is co-founder and chief medical officer of BioNTech and a physician, immunologist, and cancer researcher. At BioNTech, she is heading the clinical development of Project Lightspeed, the company’s successful effort to develop and distribute an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19, which was completed in less than one year. Türeci has also helped lead the discovery of cancer antigens, the development of mRNA-based vaccine candidates and other immunotherapies currently in clinical development. Türeci is a recipient of the German Sustainability Award, among other recognitions she has received.

Notable achievement: Developing a COVID-19 vaccine with her husband that is 95 per cent effective in 11 months – the previous record for a modern vaccine was four years, achieved in the 1960s for mumps. (Credit)

2. Shemara Wikramanayake

Macquarie Group CEO

Shemara has been Macquarie Group’s Managing Director and CEO since late 2018. Shemara is known to top Australia’s highest-paid CEO list.

Shemara joined Macquarie in 1987 in Macquarie Capital in Sydney. In her time at Macquarie, Shemara has worked in six countries and across several business lines, leading Macquarie’s corporate advisory offices in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaysia, and the infrastructure funds management business in the US and Canada. Shemara has also served as Chair of the Macquarie Group Foundation. As Head of Macquarie Asset Management for 10 years before her appointment as CEO, Shemara led a team of 1,600 staff in 24 markets. Macquarie Asset Management grew to become a world-leading manager of infrastructure and real assets and a top 50 global public securities manager.

Notable Achievement: As one of only three CEOs named to the World Bank’s Global Commission on Adaptation, she led efforts to raise AU$1 billion for renewables investment. (Credit)

3. Joey Wat

CEO, Yum China

Joey Wat is a chief executive officer of Yum China Holdings, Inc. With more than 10,000 restaurants in its portfolio, it’s the largest restaurant company in China. Joey first joined the company as president of KFC in China in 2014 after spending the prior ten years of her career with the U.K’s Watson Group. In December 2020, Wat mentioned that digital payments are 97% of Yum’s business, between kiosks, online, and delivery. Even as a young girl growing up in a small village in China with parents who couldn’t afford to give her an education, Joey found a way to learn. To help put food on the table, she hopped from factory to factory to earn wages – all before she was even of the legal age to work. And even though she was born in a time and a place that told her that being a little girl wasn’t a very prestigious thing to be, she grew up to become a fierce woman, mother and powerful executive with a net worth of roughly US$15.1 million.

Notable Achievement: Before Wat’s tenure, Yum China profits were declining, in large part because of a minimal digital presence. Wat has grown digital payments to 97 per cent of the business and 285 million members are now using its mobile app. (Credit)

4. Her Excellency Tsai Ing-Wen

President of Taiwan

Tsai Ing-Wen is the first female President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) since 2016. She is also the first president to have never held a prior elected executive post and the first to be popularly elected without having previously served as the mayor of Taipei. Tsai became the second person to win the presidency who was not a member of the Kuomintang (KMT). In addition, she was also the first person with ancestry in one of Taiwan’s ethnic minorities (Hakka) to attain that office. Tsai was also listed as one of Time‘s most influential people of 2020 and was on number 9 on Forbes’s most powerful women in 2021. Tsai Ing-Wen is working on making Taiwan an indispensable member of the world by improving the economy with initiatives in biotech, defence and green energy.

Notable Achievement– In December 2020, under Tsai’s leadership, Taiwan had gone more than 200 days without a locally acquired COVID-19 case, and the country had only 600 cases and seven deaths since the start of the pandemic. (credit)

5. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Global Economist

 Ngozi is a Nigerian-American economist, fair trade leader, environmental sustainability advocate, human welfare champion, sustainable finance maven and global development, expert. Since March 2021, Okonjo-Iweala has been serving as Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Notably, she is the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization as Director-General. Okonjo-Iweala served twice as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and also as Minister of Foreign Affairs. She was the first woman to hold both positions.

Notable achievement– As Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, she convinced the Paris Club of Creditors to wipe out US$30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of US$18 billion. (credit)

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