The third week of October, we carve pumpkins, we see leaves change colors, and, of course, we celebrate National Business Women’s Week (NBWW). In 1928, Emma Dot Partridge, then-Executive Secretary of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, organized the first annual NBWW. The 1928 event’s goal was to focus public attention on ‘better business women for a better business world.’ Today, U.S. Americans celebrate National Business Women’s Week to honor the vast contributions of women in business.


In 2017, we have plenty to celebrate. More women are breaking the glass ceiling, aiming directly for fiercely competitive executive positions. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, more than 9.1 million firms in the U.S. are owned by women. Women are narrowing the gender pay gap, and in 2016, women’s share of global wealth grew faster than men’s. Across the globe, women continue to make major impacts on business.

For business people of all genders, having a career role model can be beneficial. Excellent female role models can be found on Fortune’s annual list of the Most Powerful Women in Business. Meet Fortune Magazine’s 3 most powerful business women of 2017:

1. Mary Barra
Chairman and CEO of General Motors
Barra topped Fortune’s list for the third year in a row for a reason. She challenged Tesla with her top-selling non-luxury pure electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and she currently has her eye on self-driving cars. She is an unstoppable forward-thinker in the automobile industry.

2. Indra Nooyi
Chairman and CEO of Pepsico
Nooyi’s determination is a force to be reckoned with. Her leadership keeps PepsiCo’s profits outpacing competitors–profits rose 16% in 2016. Her company stays in tune with consumers, now marketing healthier options. PepsiCo recently launched a premium water line and acquired the kombucha producer KeVita in 2016, tapping into a product whose predicted growth is 25% annually through 2020.

3. Marillyn Hewson
Chairman, President, and CEO of Lockheed Martin

Hewson’s company has built a serious relationship with an important client – The White House. Lockheed Martin’s biggest customer is the U.S. government, and under Hewson, the company’s stocks price rose 26% over the past year.

Inspiring leaders such as Barra, Nooyi, and Hewson empower other business women to continue making great achievements every day. This National Business Women’s Week, think about business women who inspire you and who deserve recognition. You can celebrate NBWW by hosting a dinner event, or by having the office recognize, offer awards or certificates to important women in your organization. Explore the Business and Professional Women’s Association website to find more ways to commemorate businesswomen during the third week of October.

Sharon Schweitzer and Emilie Lostracco co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Emilie Lostracco is a Fall 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication Intern with Access to Culture. The Montreal native is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, studying International Relations and Global Studies. Emilie specializes in international environmental efforts, European studies, and French. She plans on graduating with honors in December. Connect with her via Linkedin.

Photo: Brooke Lark on UnsplashFortune Live Media on FlickrIIP Photo Archive on FlickrFortune Live Media on Flickr