We all think our mother is the best. But who’s the most powerful mom in the world—managing billions of dollars, entire populations and the little ones?
With Mother’s Day around the corner, ForbesWoman analyzed the annual list of the world’s 100 most powerful women—based on money controlled, decision-making power and multiple measures of influence—and teased out the moms who are at the top of their game. From spheres of government, business, entertainment and philanthropy, these 20 moms rule the roost–and the world.
This year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, mom of daughter Chelsea, ranks No. 1. With one of the biggest jobs in the world, Clinton is still a mother first. Two years ago as Chelsea planned to walk down the aisle, Clinton used email to stay abreast of wedding preparations, review photos and offer support. Global diplomacy and duties as a mother-of-the-bride were both “serious, important and stressful” jobs, she said at the time.
Power moms must develop unique strategies to succeed in both boardrooms and playrooms. Indra Nooyi (No. 3), chairman and chief of PepsiCo and mom of two, says if her kids call in the middle of a meeting, she takes the call. Sheryl Sandberg (No. 4), chief operating officer of Facebook and mother of two young children, says she leaves everyday at 5:30 to have dinner with her family.
Executive Editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson (No. 10) told Forbes that when her two children were young, she tried to be available and informed on their class work. “I haven’t been a workaholic who hasn’t been home for the important times–and just about all times are important in family life,” she said. “When I was the Washington Bureau Chief, I had a set of my kids’ high-school books. I liked to read what they were reading, so that I could talk to them when I got home.”
Today, Abramson’s children are in their twenties, and she is transitioning to no longer having kids in the house. How does she cope? “I have a golden retriever puppy,” she noted. “I think for those of us adjusting to an empty nest, after we threw ourselves into raising kids, that a loopy, hard-to-train, irrepressible, affectionate dog is a nice thing in [this period of] life.”
Many of the moms on the list have publicly acknowledged the difficulty that comes with being a mother and a professional, especially one with a high-octane career. Sandberg told Forbes in 2010 that when she was a new mother, “like everyone else, you try to do everything, and you just do everything badly all the time. When I first was at Facebook, I was definitely feeling way unbalanced and more worried about not seeing my kids. Then, I got my feet wet, got the teams in place, learned what we were doing, and now it feels more balanced.”