Most powerful women in business: these executives continue to shatter the glass ceiling as they transform business.

AuthorFloyd, Safon
PositionSPECIAL REPORT - Cover story

WHAT MAKES A POWERFUL BUSINESSWOMAN POWERFUL? What is the secret sauce: that innate quality that helps successful women start, manage, or transform some of the largest companies in the world? We decided to ask some power players across a range of backgrounds--a president of a major sports league, a marketing gum for one of the most influential globs brands ever created, and an executive that leads divisional operations for one of the most iconic fast food chains.

The relentless pursuit of excellence is nothing new to these women. According to a 2015 study on Black Women and Leadership by the Center for Taient Innovation, black women are 2.8 times as likelv as white women to aspiie to a powerful position with a prestigious title. The study also found that black women have been "leaning in" for generations. They are far more confident in their business roles (43% vs. 30% of white women ! that they oan succeed in a position of power, and they're clear on what they want to achieve outside the office: financial independence, personal growth, and social justice. They're also more likely to say they're able to empower others and be empowered (57% vs. 42%).

For example, let's take a look at our cover subjects. Lisa Borders, president of the WBN A, brings over 15 years of experience to the league after serving as chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation and president of the City Council/vice mayor of Atlanta. Bozoma Saint John brings massive influence to Apple as head of Global Consumer Marketing. iTunes & Feats Music. Debbie Roberts leads strategy, talent, and brand development to drive long-term growth for thousands of McDonald's throughout the Eastern United States.

These women represent our esteemed Most Powerful Women in Business--a listing that crosses industry, public and private companies, and roles. The impressive credentials of the women on this list place them among some of the most influential executives and entrepreneurs in the country . Despite consistent barriers to entry, these women continue to use their leadership prowess to manage the bottom line but also to shape the direction of future generations of business leaders.

How we selected our most powerful women:

To identify our Most Powerful Women in Business, our editorial and research teams conducted in-depth research: scoured our Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America. Leading Women in Marketing and Advertising, 75 Most Powerful Women in Business. The B.E. Corporate Directors Registry, and BE 100s listings; consulted associations: and reviewed a great number of bios and resumes. Our selections met the following criteria:


* Many executives are among the highest ranked in their companies: they hold C'-suite positions including CEO, CMO, COO, CAO, CHRO, and CIO.

* Other executives have president, executive vice president, managing director, general counsel or senior vice president roles but manage significant lines of business or serve as representatives on the executive leadership teams of their company They also contribute to the development of business operational and financial policies and strategies of their companies.

* Executives of major corporate foundations and large nonprofits were included. However, those holding the position of chief diversity officer, or executives who oversee corporate communications, investor relations, and external affairs were not.

* The BE 100s CEOs included those who manage businesses that are among the largest black-owned companies across industrial categories.

DEBBIE ROBERTS President, East Zone, McDonald's

Having climbed the ranks from an entry-level accountant to East Zone president at McDonald's, Debbie Roberts' career trajectory proves that in corporate America, nothing can replace hard work.

Roberts began her career with the fast food giant in 1990 and she steadily progressed to become vice president, general manager for the company in 2009. Roberts held this position for three years before taking on the role of senior vice president, restaurant support officer in 2012--the position she held prior to her current role. It was at this point in her career that she realized her potential for C-suite success.

"When I first became a senior vice president, I acknowledged that it was a sizable promotion at a Fortune 100 company," she states. "I continued to have conversations with my senior leadership team about people viewing me as someone who had more potential to do more things. I gained confidence that people thought I had more bandwidth and capacity to lead more initiatives and drive profitability for the brand."

From the time Roberts can remember, her plan was to always be in a leadership role. She quickly realized that McDonald's afforded her unbelievable opportunities to achieve her goals. Roberts nurtured her career in accounting for seven years before transitioning into marketing. From a regional marketing supervisor, she worked her way up to senior marketing director, overseeing the market activities of seven regions. Eventually, Roberts took the advice of a mentor who encouraged her to look into management and McDonald's executive fast track. This meant going into restaurant operations. The rest is history.

Now, leading talent and brand development strategy to drive long-term growth for nearly 3,000 McDonald's throughout the Northeast United States, Roberts' career has reached heights she hadn't foreseen. "This job that I'm in today is almost unimaginable. I won't pretend like it was part of my plan, and every day when I wake up I'm just completely thankful. I feel very blessed that I get the opportunity to do this."

Roberts attributes her career climb to her commendable work ethic. "I may not always be the smartest person in the room and have the highest IQ," she states, "but no one's ever going to outwork me."

Sandra Phillips

Group VP, Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel

Toyota Motor North America

Toyota Motor Corp.

Sandra Phillips' experience and expertise in class action lawsuits, product liability and securities, as well as government and regulatory investigations made her a great fit to oversee Toyota Legal One or "TL1," the legal services arm of Toyota North America. When she was promoted to the position in 2015, she made history as the first African American woman to run the legal office of the global car company's North American affiliate.

As group vice president, chief legal officer, and general counsel, she supports the company's legal needs, business operations, and business strategies including intellectual property, litigation, export law, regulatory law, and real estate. She is also responsible for managing representation of Toyota's affiliates in North America in addition to Toyota Mexico and Toyota Puerto Rico.

Phillips previously served as vice president and deputy general counsel at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., where she is credited for playing a key role in overseeing complex legal matters and building an integrated North American legal services group.

Before joining Toyota in 2012, she was a managing partner of the Houston office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon law firm. Prior to that, as senior vice president, associate general counsel and chief litigation counsel at Pfizer, Phillips was responsible for setting and executing legal strategies for the company's global product litigation matters.

She is also a founding member of the University of Texas Center for Women in Law.

Channing Dungey

President, ABC Entertainment

Walt Disney Co.

When Channing Dungey was chosen last year to be the new president of ABC Entertainment, she made history as the first African American to head programming at a major broadcast network.

If you're not already familiar with her name, you're certainly familiar with her work--in her previous role as executive vice president of Drama Development, Movies & Miniseries, she is credited with developing many successful and highly regarded dramas, including Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Quantico, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, and American Crime. For the 201617 season, she ushered in a wide variety of programming including Designated Survivor and Speechless.

Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ ABC Television, credited Dungey's record of developing compelling, breakthrough programming that resonates with viewers as one of the top reasons why she was given the spot, calling her a gifted leader.

In her current role, Dungey has oversight of all development, programming, marketing, and scheduling operations for ABC Primetime and Late Night.

Dungey has been with the network since 2009 and with ABC Studios since 2004. She began her career as a development assistant for Davis Entertainment at 20th Century Fox. She moved up to story editor at Steamroller Productions, where she worked on the development and production of films including Under Siege and On Deadly Ground. Her success at Steamroller led to a job offer at Warner Bros. There she served five years as a production executive, helping to develop films including Devil's Advocate, Space Jam, and The Matrix.

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