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Who are the 12 most powerful women in Europe?

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In its most recent ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ list, Forbes has highlighted the leading female figures in business and politics across the globe. We break down the top 12 of these leaders from the list from Europe.

Angela Merkel

Nationality: German

Age: 67

Profession: Chancellor of Germany

Currently in her fourth term as the leader of her country, Merkel is often viewed as the de facto leader of the European Union, due to the size of the German economy and its influence over the rest of its member states. She ranks top of the Forbes list and the world will watch as this will be her last term in the role, and many questions are being asked about what the future holds for the country and the continent.

Christine Lagarde

Nationality: French

Age: 65

Profession: President of the European Central Bank

A career politician, lawyer and economist, Lagarde has been serving as the President of the European Central Bank since November 2019, having joined from the International Monetary Fund, where she served as its Managing Director. As the leader of one of the world’s most important central banks, she plays a key role in directing its future and managing its €530bn in reserves. She has taken a very public stance in insisting that she will lead the bank in its role in fighting climate change.

Ursula von der Leyen

Nationality: Belgian/German

Age: 62

Profession: President of the European Commission

As the head of the European Commission – the executive branch of the European Union (EU) – she leads the Cabinet of Commissioners. Von der Leyen sets the policy agenda and legislative proposals – the only EU body that can propose new or updated laws within the Union, which affects more than 700 million people. Currently in her second year (out of five) in the role, she is the first female to hold office.

Ana Patricia Botin

Nationality: Spanish

Age: 60

Profession: Executive Chairman of Santander Group

Botin is the fourth generation of her family to lead the banking giant – having previously run the UK part of the business from 2010 to 2014. Botin has regularly been recognised and respected by the political elite across the continent, due to her success and influence in the role. She has shifted the company to embrace the fintech revolution and has switched the bank’s focus to helping entrepreneurs, SMEs and business leaders from more diverse backgrounds. Her tenure highlight was acquiring rival Banco Popular for €1 in 2017.

Emma Walmsley

Nationality: UK

Age: 52

Profession: CEO of GlaxoSmithKLine

As the first female to run one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical giants, Walmsley has been CEO of the 300-year-old company since April 2017. Walmsley has directed the company’s drastic global restructuring as part of its plans to save more than $500m a year. As a part of this, she made it public that the vast majority of resources would be put into R&D for new drug developments. Last year, she was appointed a Dame for her services to the industry and UK business.

Judith McKenna

Nationality: UK

Age: 55

Profession: President and CEO of Walmart International

McKenna leads retail giant Walmart’s overall global operations – comprising of more than 6,000 stores and more than 500,000 employees in over 25 countries. Having risen through the ranks at the company, she has been featured in the Forbes list for the past six years and has been credited for helping grow Walmart’s (and Asda’s) retail operations.

Kristalina Georgieva

Nationality: Bulgaria

Age: 58

Profession: Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

Founded in 1944 to counter the constant global economic crisis that had befallen many nations around the world for the previous 15+ years, the IMF’s now 190 member countries work together to help maintain a healthy global economy. The former CEO of the World Bank, Georgieva has been leading the IMF since October 2019. Her main focus in the year’s ahead is to help tackle the climate crisis.

Martina Merz

Nationality: German

Age: 58

Profession: CEO of ThyssenKrupp Group

Another German on the list – Merz is the leader of global conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, and has a storied background in engineering and technology. She leads more than 100,000 employees across the world, and last year, the firm reported revenues of more than $35bn. She took up the role in 2019 and will remain in the post until the end of 2023.

Amanda Blanc

Nationality: UK

Age:  54

Profession: CEO of Aviva

Welsh-born Blanc is the leader of the UK’s leading insurer, having taken up the role in July 2020. With more than 33 million customers and over £510bn in assets under management, she has received several top awards for her work in the industry. She recently announced that she plans to take the company in a new direction and help it become net zero by 2040.

Marianne Lake

Nationality: UK

Age: 52

Profession: Co-CEO of Consumer & Community Banking at JPMorgan

Lake is Co-CEO of Consumer & Community Banking (CCB) and a member of the JPMorgan Chase Operating Committee. She is jointly responsible for all of CCB, a business that serves more than 60 million households and four million small businesses in the USA. Lake leads Payments, Lending and Commerce, including three industry-leading lending businesses: Card Services, Home Lending and Auto Finance. She is rumoured to be next in line for the top job at the financial giant.

Queen Elizabeth II

Nationality: UK

Age: 95

Profession: Queen of the United Kingdom

As the leader of the royal family of the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth realms for almost 70 years, Elizabeth II has lived through some of the world’s most historic moments. She is the longest-reigning monarch in British history and is respected by leaders across the world.

Erna Solberg

Nationality: Norwegian

Age: 61

Profession: Prime Minister of Norway

Rounding off the Business Leader list – and number 61 on the Forbes Top 100 – Solberg is four years into her second term as the leader of the Scandinavian nation. Known as ‘Iron Ena’ after her comparisons to Margaret Thatcher, she has been the leader of the Conservative Party since 2004.

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