Accenture's Sweet 16th on Forbes' most powerful women rankings

27 December 2019 3 min. read

Accenture CEO Julie Sweet has been named among Forbes’ annual World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list, landing at 16th. She is joined by new entrant Jessica Tan, former McKinsey partner and current co-CEO of Chinese financial services giant Ping An.

Having only taken the helm in September – albeit of a company now generating global revenues in excess of $43 billion – new Accenture CEO Julie Sweet is already adding plenty of fresh accolades to her resume, her naming at 16th on Forbes’ annual World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list the most recent. The recognition follows Sweet’s 15th placing on Fortune’s recent Businessperson of the Year list.

To arrive at its rankings, Forbes takes into account four metrics, money (GDP, revenue, assets under management, or net worth), media mentions, impact (employee count, population) and spheres of influence, while also looking at hard power (currencies and constitutions), dynamic power (audiences, communities and creative influence), and soft power (what are leaders doing with their influence) within each field.

Altogether, close to half of this year’s entrants on the Forbes’ list were drawn from the business or technology realms, the remainder active in the areas of finance, media & entertainment, politics & policy, or philanthropy. Together, they are said to control or influence more than $2.3 trillion in revenue and oversee almost 6.5 million employees. Accenture alone has a headcount of close to half a million staff.Julie Sweet - CEO of Accenture

With Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde and Nancy Pelosi claiming the first three spots, Sweet’s ranking within the top 20 sees her placed ahead of other influential and recognisable figures such as Facebook’s Chief Operating Office Sheryl Sandberg, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England and the United Kingdom. Climate activist Greta Thunberg also squeezed in at 100th.

“Power, for me, is really about taking people on a journey and reaching an outcome,” states Sweet, as quoted by Forbes. “You can have people as CEO who are not effective, and when you get underneath, it’s often because they weren’t able to bring people along the journey, translate the vision, and bring them together to execute to get an outcome.” Notably, Sweet arrived to the top job via a background in law.  

Covering representatives from 32 countries in total, the Asia Pacific accounted for the second greatest number of entries following North America, with 21 women from the region making the list. Leading the Asian cohort was new entrant Jessica Tan at 22nd, following Tan’s elevation to co-CEO of Chinese financial services group Ping An at the end of last year. Prior to Ping An, Tan spent more than a decade at McKinsey.

In this respect, Tan isn’t alone. Aforementioned Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (18th) had a brief stint at the strategy and management consulting giant, while Citigroup President and touted future CEO Jane Fraser, at 32nd on the list, kicked off her career at McKinsey and later made partner. Tan Hooi Ling (63rd), co-founder and COO of ride-hailing platform Grab also spent time with McKinsey in Malaysia.  

“This year’s list is a collection of innovators and instigators who are leading on the world stage to redefine traditional power structures and forge lasting impact in every industry and sphere of influence,” said Forbes’ EVP Moira Forbes. “As we come to the close of the current decade, our listees remind us of the huge strides that have been made by women, and the great opportunity they have to define the decade ahead.”