Welcome to the fourth edition of our “Women on Wednesday” weekly blog series, which aims to give a bit more insight into the leading female figures in business. Last week we looked at Santander’s Chairman Ana Botín and Imperial Tabacco Group’s CEO, Alison Cooper. This week we look at Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman and Chanel’s Global CEO Maureen Chiquet.
Meg Whitman (58 years old)
One of Silicon Valley’s highest-profile woman is CEO of technology giant Hewlett-Packard, Meg Whitman. Whitman was born in New Jersey, and initially studied math and science at Princeton University, in the hope of later becoming a doctor. She switched to economics instead, later completing her MBA at the prestigious Harvard Business School. Whitman began her career as a brand manager for Procter & Gamble. She later became a consultant at Bain & Company’s, and eventually made Senior Vice President. Her big break began when she joined eBay in 1998 as President and CEO. During her time at eBay (10 years in total), Whitman transformed the company from having 30 employees and a $4m revenue, to having 15,000 employees and a revenue of $8 billion, receiving numerous awards for her success shortly following. She joined Hewlett-Packard’s board of directors in 2011, and became CEO just 9 months later. In 2010, Whitman (unsuccessfully) ran for Governorship of California, spending a staggering $144m of her own money on the campaign – the most expensive self-funded campaign of any political candidate in U.S. history. She lives in Atherton, California and is married with two children.
“The cost of an inaction is far greater than the cost of a mistake”
Maureen Chiquet (51 years old) Maureen Chiquet is currently the Global CEO of fashion house Chanel. Originally from St. Louis, U.S.A., she studied film and literature at Yale University. She later completed a marketing internship at L’Oréal in Paris, which she describes as the start of her love affair with the world of beauty and fashion. She shortly returned to the U.S.A. to work as an assistant merchandiser for Gap, eventually making it to Executive Vice President of Merchandising. While at Gap, she was fundamental in the launch of the Old Navy brand, which is now a leading part of the business and has an estimated worth of $5bn. Chiquet valued this experience enormously, and saw it as a great insight into building both a brand and a team. She later (briefly) worked for Gap’s subsidiary Banana Republic before packing it all in to follow her dream. She moved to Paris and began working for Chanel. It was only a year into her career with the French fashion house that Chiquet was promoted to Chanel’s President in the U.S. She was mainly responsible for beauty, fashion and fragrances. As the company restructured in 2007, Chiquet took the role of Global CEO and help transform Chanel into a global company now said to be worth $6.2bn.
“To lead effectively and achieve real business results as the head of any enterprise, you have to listen.”