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Spotlights by HRCap: Top 15 Women Influencers to Follow in 2024


Written by HRCap, Inc.

February 28, 2024




In honor of the upcoming Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting 15 exceptional women influencers who are making a remarkable difference in their respective industries and society. From philanthropists to entrepreneurs, these women influencers are leaving their mark on history as truly empowering leaders in society.



Top 15 Women Influencers of 2024



Melinda Gates, an American leader in philanthropy and technology, is best known for co-founding the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest private philanthropic organizations globally. Through the foundation, Gates has played a pivotal role in addressing pressing global issues such as healthcare, poverty, and education. She is also the founder of Pivotal Ventures, a company working to accelerate the pace of social progress in the United States. Her advocacy for women and girls' rights has been particularly impactful, with initiatives aimed at empowering women worldwide.


Gates has received several accolades for her philanthropic endeavors, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor, and one of India’s highest civilian honors, Padma Bhushan. Additionally, she has been recognized as the BBC’s 100 Women of 2021, Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in 2023, and Forbes 400 Richest People in America in 2023.




Oprah Winfrey is an African American renowned media mogul and philanthropist, best known for her iconic talk show "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which has captivated audiences worldwide for 25 years. Through her media empire, including OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), she inspires and empowers viewers with programming focused on personal growth and self-improvement. Beyond her media influence, Winfrey is recognized for her extensive philanthropic efforts, particularly in education and healthcare.


Winfrey's achievements have earned her numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Golden Globe for lifetime achievement, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, reflecting her dedication to philanthropy and her profound impact on society. She was also recognized as Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in 2023, Forbes 100 America’s Richest Self-Made Women in 2023, and Forbes 400 Richest People in America in 2023.




Brené Brown, an American research professor at the University of Houston, is renowned for her research and content on vulnerability, courage, and empathy. She is known for giving a TEDx Talk on vulnerability, which has garnered over 50 million views. Devoted to developing leaders, she became the Founder and CEO of a professional training and certification program called “The Daring Way.” With six #1 New York Times bestselling books and two acclaimed podcasts, she is a leading voice on personal growth and leadership.


Among her many accolades, Brown has received the 2021 Webby Award for Best Business Podcast and the iHeartRadio Podcast Award for Best Advice or Inspirational Podcast in 2021. Additionally, she received the Champion of Talent Development Award from ATD and was recognized by Houston Woman Magazine as one of the city’s most influential women in 2009.




Indra Nooyi, an Indian American businesswoman, has significantly impacted the corporate world through her leadership and innovation. As the former CEO of PepsiCo, she transformed PepsiCo’s global strategy and introduced Design Thinking into its innovation process. She also steered PepsiCo to consider environmental issues by cutting their carbon footprint through the implementation of leaner packaging and renewable energy. Under her leadership, the company’s annual net profit grew from $2.7 billion to 6.5 billion. She made history as the first woman to lead the company and one of the few female Fortune 500 chief executives. 


Recognized as one of the world’s top CEOs, Nooyi received numerous honors, including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the Padma Bhushan title, the Bower Award for Business Leadership, the Outstanding Woman in Business Award, and the Golden Book Awards.




Lara Sophie Bothur, a German Corporate Influencer and Voice for Innovation at Deloitte, has leveraged her role to educate and engage her audience on cutting-edge topics such as AI, smart mobility, virtual reality, blockchain, and quantum computing. Through her corporate influence, she has reached over 140 million people. She spoke and moderated at multiple events, such as Megatrends at Digital X and Rise of AI Conference.


Recognized for her thought leadership, Bothur has been named the LinkedIn Top Voice 2023 for Tech, the 3rd most influential LinkedIn Creator Worldwide in 2024 by Favikon, and the 1st most influential LinkedIn Creator in Tech & IT Germany in 2023 by Favikon. 




Winnie Byanyima, a Ugandan leader in international development and advocacy, is known for her leadership roles in global organizations dedicated to combating poverty, inequality, and social injustice. Notably, as the Executive Director of UNAIDS, she has led initiatives to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide and advocated for increased access to treatment and prevention. Byanyima also served as the Executive Director of Oxfam International, where she championed systemic change to alleviate poverty and promote humanitarian aid. Throughout her career, she has been a vocal advocate for women's rights, HIV/AIDS prevention, and sustainable development.


Byanyima’s dedication to promoting human rights, social justice, and gender equality has earned her several prestigious awards, including the 2018 Human Rights and Solidarity among Peoples Prize by the Latin American Council of Social Sciences, the 2018 Global Women’s Leadership Award, and the Amsterdam Dinner Award 2023. She has also been recognized as one of Forbes Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women in 2020.




Vani Kola, an Indian entrepreneur and venture capitalist, is the founder and managing director of Kalaari Capital, a leading venture capital firm. She has played a pivotal role in identifying and nurturing promising technology-focused startups and working with entrepreneurs to build global companies. Kola’s dedication to fostering entrepreneurship and driving economic growth has earned her widespread recognition and numerous accolades. Beyond her venture capital firm, she actively supports the Heartfulness Institute, a non-profit organization that teaches human transformation through yoga and meditation.


Forbes recognized Kola as one of the most powerful women in India business in 2014, identified her as one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2016, and named one of Fortune India’s “Most Powerful Women in Business” in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, she was awarded the 2018 TiE Delhi-NCR 5th Edition of Women Entrepreneurship Summit Award, The Economic Times’ 2015 Midas Touch Award, and the NDTV Women of Worth Award for her leadership in business and entrepreneurship.




Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, an Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist, is the founder and chairperson of Biocon Limited, which has become one of Asia’s leading biotech companies. Through her company, she created affordable and accessible medicines for the world’s less fortunate patients. Under her visionary leadership, Biocon has emerged as a global leader in biopharmaceuticals, focusing on research, development, and commercialization of novel therapies for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. She also actively supports initiatives in healthcare, education, and rural development through the Mazumdar-Shaw Medical Foundation and the Biocon Foundation. Additionally, she is the first woman to head the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IMMB) and serves as an expert on the Brand Bengaluru Task Force committee that deliberates on issues concerning Bengaluru’s development. 


As a result of her dedication and philanthropic efforts, Mazumdar-Shaw was recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and listed as the 85th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2015. Additionally, she has received several international awards, such as the 2014 Othmer Gold Medal, the 2009 Nikkei Asia Prize, Ernst & Young’s 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Life Sciences & Healthcare, and the 2015 winner of the Academy of International Business (AIB) The International Executive of the Year Award.




Ana Patricia Botín, a prominent Spanish figure in the banking and finance industry, is the Executive Chairman of Banco Santander, one of Europe’s largest banks. When she first stepped into leadership, she became the first woman to chair a global financial organization and one of the only six women to lead a Fortune Global 100 company. Under her leadership, Botín expanded Banco Santander’s worldwide presence and pioneered the bank’s digital transformation. To support university entrepreneurship, she launched Santander X and helped create Spain’s first multi-sector blockchain-based platform. During the pandemic, she also chose to forgo 50% of her annual compensation to establish Banco Santander’s Together Solidarity Fund, which provided medical equipment and materials to healthcare systems to help combat COVID-19 (Forbes).


For her achievements in banking, Botín was named UK business ambassador, appointed an honorary Dame Commander of the British Empire, and awarded the FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism 2015. She was also listed as one of Fortune’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women and on Forbes 2020 Most Powerful Women list.




Sara Blakely, a prominent American entrepreneur and businesswoman, is best known as the founder of Spanx, an intimate apparel company. She revolutionized the apparel market by offering women comfortable and effective undergarments that provided practical solutions and empowered women to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. Providing support to entrepreneurs and educational opportunities for girls, she has donated about $24 million to women’s causes both locally and internationally. Her entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to female empowerment have inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams and challenge conventions in the business world.


Blakely's entrepreneurial acumen has earned her widespread recognition and numerous accolades. She has been featured on Forbes' list of the World's Most Powerful Women and Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.




Sophia Kianni, a remarkable Iranian American social entrepreneur and activist, has founded Climate Cardinals, the world's largest youth-led climate nonprofit boasting over 10,000 volunteers across 80+ countries. Making waves with her impactful initiatives and advocacy efforts, Kianni has spearheaded a global movement to address the urgent issue of climate change. Her dedication to environmental activism has earned her the distinction of being the youngest United Nations advisor in US history and a member of the EPA's National Youth Advisory Council. 


Sophia has been celebrated for her achievements, winning the TED global idea competition, being named VICE Media's youngest Human of the Year, and earning accolades such as being a National Geographic Young Explorer and a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree. Additionally, she has been recognized as one of BBC's 100 Women and a Les Napoleons' Laureate for Most Innovative Woman of the Year. 




Grace Tolentino, a Filipino entrepreneur, banker, and global investor, is the CEO and Chairwoman of Boracay Beach Inc. (BBI) and President of Akamai Holdings Inc. Under her leadership, BBI has led the forefront of modern real estate, finance, and investment, contributing to the presence and business value of the Philippines. Sharing her thought leadership and expertise, she is featured in international magazines such as Forbes Women, Lady Boss Asia, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and CNN.


For her leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, Tolentino has received multiple awards, such as International Finance’s Business Excellence and Leadership 2021 Award, World Class Philippine Council’s Global Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year in 2020, Golden Dragon’s Entrepreneurship 2019 Award, and Elite Business Council’s Investor Choice of the Year 2019 Award, among many others.




Juliana Chan, an MIT-trained Singaporean scientist and visionary leader in science communication, is the founder and CEO of Wildtype Media Group, which aims to bridge the gap between science and society through impactful storytelling and media platforms. Though she started as an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, she committed herself to work full-time on her media business, which won six prizes at the 2017 Media Publishers Association of Singapore Awards. Through her leadership at Wildtype, she has developed a diverse portfolio of multimedia channels, including the popular Asian Scientist Magazine, which showcases groundbreaking research and profiles leading scientists across Asia.


Beyond her work in media, Chan is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, actively promoting the representation of women and underrepresented groups in science and technology. She has won many awards for her commitment to excellence and innovation, including the L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science National Fellowship, the 2013 Singapore Youth Award, and the 2014 MIT Technology Review’s 10 Innovators Under 35 (Asia). 




Vivian Tu, a Chinese American personal finance content creator, is the CEO and Founder of Your Rich BFF. Through her social media platform, she helps others navigate their financial journeys with her expertise. Putting together her financial knowledge and guidance, she has written a New York Times Best Seller book that provides financial education and empowerment.


Through her influence in the finance and content creation spheres, Tu earned a spot on Forbes’ Top Creators list in 2022 and 2023 and was included in the 30 Under 30 - Social Media in 2023. Additionally, she has received The Points Guy’s Next Gen Influencer of the Year Award.




Monica H. Kang, a Korean American leader and innovator, is the founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox, an education startup dedicated to building a creative workplace by offering a range of educational workshops and consulting services. Partnering with WeWork DC, she has started an innovators’ speaker series, “Beyond The Box,” which is available to the public to learn how to incorporate innovation in specific industries. Individually, she has spoken at more than 600 speaking engagements in 30 cities, inspiring more than 50,000 individuals.


Kang's exceptional contributions to fostering creativity and innovation have earned her prestigious accolades, including recognition from The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSCD), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). She received various awards for her innovation and entrepreneurship, including Top 100 MBE Awards from the Capital Region Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Womanpreneur Under 40 of the Year, and Just Ambitious Small Business Award from the DC Women’s Business Center.



Conclusion 


As we celebrate Women's History Month and the incredible achievements of women influencers across various industries, let us also remember that every woman has the potential to make a difference and become a leader in her own right. By empowering and supporting each other, we can continue to break down barriers and pave the way for future generations of women to succeed.


Let us all continue to inspire and uplift each other as we work towards building a better, truly diverse and inclusive world for all.



Sources: HRCap, Asian Scientist Magazine, ATD, Atlanta Magazine, Biography, Billion Success, Boracay Beach Inc., Britannica, EY, Forbes, Forbes, Forbes India, Gates Foundation, Juliana Chan, Kalaari Capital, Leaders, LinkedIn, Monica H. Kang, PATA, Sophia Kianni, Spanx Foundation, Tatler Asia, Thomas Publishing Company, UNAIDS, United Nations, Vani Kola, WE Forum, WeForum, Wikipedia, World Finance, and World Finance, Your Rich BFF



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