It has long been the case that women in positions of leadership have been few and far between. In business, politics and STEM fields to name a few the gender balance is still significantly off kilter. However it cannot be denied that this trend is changing.
Whilst both the public and private spheres have a long way to go – inspiration female leaders are becoming more and more prevalent.
The following women have each been inspirational leaders in their own right. They are leaders in climate change, technology, artificial intelligence, politics and business. Each have proven themselves to be successful in positions of leadership and subverted trends of male dominant leadership.
As keynote speakers and advisors, these inspirational women have unique leadership experiences to share, with the added dimension that they have often been the first or one of very few women who have held their same position.
Here is a list of some of our top inspirational speakers – women in leadership:
Having held the top position of leadership in New Zealand for three terms as its first female Prime Minister, Helen Clark has experienced led both her country and held one of the top leadership positions at the United Nations as the Administrator of the UN Development Programme.
Throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, and as a Member of Parliament over 27 years, Clark engaged widely in policy development and advocacy across the international, economic, social, environmental, and cultural spheres.
Clark continues to be a strong voice for sustainable development, climate action, gender equality and women’s leadership, peace and justice, and action on non-communicable diseases and on HIV.
Ayesha Khanna is a leader in Artificial Intelligence, Smart Cities and Fintech. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence advisory firm and incubator. In 2017, ADDO AI was featured in Forbes magazine as one of four leading artificial intelligence companies in Asia.
Khanna has been named one of Singapore’s leading female entrepreneurs and a leading Asian fintech influencer by Fintech Asia. She also served on the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Steering Committee on future skills and applied learning for emerging industries.
She is also the Founder of 21C GIRLS, a charity that delivers free coding and artificial intelligence classes to girls in Singapore.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet Minister; Chairman of the Conservative party 2010-12 and a Minister at the Foreign Office 2010-14.
Daughter of an immigrant mill worker, Warsi rose to become an Advisor to the Leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, in 2004, the youngest peer in the House of Lords, aged 36.
Warsi is a lawyer, author, business woman and member of the House of Lords. She is a leader in campaigns for equalities and religious freedom and is Chair of the Baroness Warsi Foundation and Trustee of the Savayra Foundation, both of which focus on social mobility and gender equality.
Read more on Baroness Sayeeda Warsi
Christiana Figueres is an internationally recognised leader on global climate change and is the recent Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Figueres assumed leadership for the international climate change negotiations after the failed Copenhagen conference of 2009, she was determined to lead the process to a universally agreed regulatory framework. Building toward that goal, she directed the successful Conferences of the Parties in Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013, and Lima 2014, and culminated her efforts in the historical Paris Agreement of 2015.
Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy for bringing together national and sub national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith, think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the unprecedented climate change agreement.
Read more on Christiana Figueres
Yasmin Al Bulushi
Yasmin Al Bulushi has leadership experience in both academia and training with the main purpose of further enhancing the development of Omani society.
Al Bulushi followed her passion for education, beginning as a language teacher in the Ministry of Education in 1997 and 5 years later moved into higher education as an educator, mentor and shaper of the College of Banking & Financial Studies.
Al Bulushi has been actively engaged in various aspects of teaching and research including women’s leadership, communication skills, work life balance, stress management and emotional intelligence.
Among the many other senior leadership roles she has been in, she holds a senior position at the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority for Higher Education Institutes. She is also a member of the executive committee of the Oman Quality Network of Higher Education.
Read more on Yasmin Al Bulushi
Throughout her entire career, having worked at Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Chatham House, Elizabeth Linder has never held a position with an existing job description. Linder specialises in the intersection of societal change and 21st-century leadership from inside the social media revolution.
Linder worked with Mark Zuckerberg on his first tour of Europe, opened Facebook’s first office in India, and in 2011 moved to London to found and build the Politics & Government division across the Europe, Middle East & Africa region.
Kiran Bedi, holds the distinction of being India’s first and highest ranking female police officer, with more than 35 years of experience in reformative policing and prison management. She is a leading social activist, and the founder of two NGOs.
Her leadership efforts to prevent crime, reform prisons, end drug abuse, and support women’s causes earned her a Roman Magsaysay Award, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Bedi co-founded the Navjyoti India Foundation (NIF) in 1987, which began as a drug-addiction rehabilitation initiative and has now expanded to other social issues like illiteracy and women empowerment. In 1994 Bedi setup India Vision Foundation which works in field of police reforms, prison reforms, women empowerment and rural and community development.
Rafidah Aziz is Malaysia’s longest serving Minister of International Trade and Industry, having been in the position for 21 years from 1987-2008. As one of South East Asia’s most dynamic and respected people, she is regarded as a leader on global trade.
As leader of the ministry for international trade and industry, she worked tirelessly to position and to promote Malaysia as the most favoured destination for foreign direct investment. Under her leadership, many multi-national corporations such as Intel, Western Digital, Panasonic, Samsung set up manufacturing, research and development facilities in Malaysia. Malaysia is now the 20th largest trading nation in the world and the largest exporter of semi-conductors.
Sahar Hashemi founded Coffee Republic, the UK’s first US style coffee bar chain with her brother and together led the company into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with 110 bars.
After stepping back from the leadership of Coffee Republic, she wrote the bestselling entrepreneurship book, Anyone Can Do It. Latterly she has also founded Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free sweets which was sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten in 2007.
Farah Pandith was the first ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the United States Department of State.
She assumed this leadership position in 2009 under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pandith travelled to nearly one hundred countries under both Secretaries Clinton and Kerry launching youth-focused initiatives. Meeting with thousands of Muslim youth at the grassroots and designing innovative platforms, initiatives and networks.
Pandith is an adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Senior Fellow at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Head of Strategy at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. She was a member of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council and serves in leadership roles on several non-government boards.
For more information on any of these inspirational women, or to enquire about having them as your next motivational speaker, please contact us below