Women Making Strides at the Base


Women still make up a very small percentage of CEOs at blue-chip companies around the world, yet the number of female entrepreneurs and those who hold positions with purchasing power is on the rise around the globe, which is a far more telling trend in the business world, said Irene Natividad, president of the Global Summit of Women, at the Legacies of Women Forum held at IESE Business School.

Natividad moderated the forum, which featured a panel of senior women executives who fielded questions on a range of issues such as how they made it to the top, how they were educated by their parents and how they balance a demanding career with family life. Participants in the forum were Núria Cabutí, CEO of Random House Mondadori S.A.; Macarena Cassinello, vice-president of Case New Holland; Ana Maria Llopis, chair of the board of Dia Spain and board director at Société Generale, France; and Elizabeth Trallero, CEO of Congost Plastic. Mireia Rius, IESE's director of the Alumni Association and International Development, provided opening remarks. Prof. Nuria Chinchilla, director of IESE's International Center for Work and Family, moderated the Q&A session.

Natividad said that quotas are having a major impact on the number of female board numbers across Europe, where the percentage of women on boards ranges from 40 percent in Norway to 2 percent in Malta. Moreover, 40 to 50 percent of the world's global workforce is now women, many of whom wield significant purchasing power.

In fact, the position of "purchasing agent" in private companies and goverment is most often held by women in the United States today, she said. "And they're not just buying paper clips - they're buying raw materials and they're buying consultancies."

During the panel discussion, Cabuti noted her life-long aspiration to contribute to a large organization, while Cassinello described being extremely curious and mechanically-inclined, eventually going on to earn an engineering degree. Llopis detailed how she personally visited 14 stores owned by a prospective employer the day before an interview, an extra effort which helped land her a job. And finally, Trallero stressed how sports and a competitive mindset can contribute toward success.

The Global Summit of Women is an event that brings together women leaders of business, government and non-governmental organizations for a 3-day forum focused on best practices that accelerate women's economic advancement. Called the "Davos for Women," the summit features unique networking opportunities, speakers and skill-building sessions. The 2012 Summit will be held in Athens, Greece, May 31-June 2, 2012.