Five Indian-origin women feature in the Forbes annual list of America’s richest self-made women list. According to the US business magazine, they have made their fortunes in a variety of businesses such as entertainment, healthcare, technology, cosmetics, fashion, and others. This year’s list required a minimum net worth of $215 million.
Jayshree V Ullal, president and CEO of Arista Networks made it to number 15, Neerja Sethi, co-founder of Syntel figured ranked number 24, Neha Narkhede, co-founder and former CTO of Confluent at number 57, Indra Nooyi the former PepsiCo CEO ranked number 85, and Reshma Shetty, co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks at number 97.
Born in London and raised in India, she is one of America’s wealthiest female executives. Ullal topped the list for the fifth consecutive year and last year became the first self-made woman in America to boast a fortune of $10 billion or more.
She attended San Francisco State University where she graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering. She went to Santa Clara University where she received a master’s degree in engineering management.
Ullal has been president and CEO of Arista Networks, a computer networking firm, since 2008. She joined Arista when it had no revenues and fewer than 50 employees. She joined the board of directors of Snowflake, a cloud computing company that went public in September 2020.
The publicly-traded company reported revenue of $2.3 billion in 2020, down nearly 4% from 2019. Ullal owns about 5 percent of Arista’s stock, some of which is assigned to her two children, a niece, and a nephew. In August 2018, Arista settled a multi-year patent infringement battle with Cisco, Ullal’s former employer, agreeing to pay Cisco $400 million.
Neerja Sethi co-founded IT consulting and outsourcing firm Syntel with her husband Bharat Desai in 1980 in their apartment in Troy, Michigan. French IT firm Atos SE bought Syntel for $3.4 billion in October 2018. Sethi got an estimated $510 million for her stake. Sethi, who had served as an executive at Syntel since 1980, did not join Atos after the acquisition. Sethi met her husband in the U.S. while working for pioneering IT firm Tata Consultancy Services, which they attempted to emulate. The couple started the business with an initial investment of just $2,000.
Sethi holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics, a master’s degree in computer science, and an MBA in operations research.
Neha Narkhede is co-founder and former chief technology officer of cloud company Confluent. As a LinkedIn software engineer, she helped develop the open-source messaging system Apache Kafka to handle the networking site’s huge influx of data. In 2014, she and two LinkedIn colleagues left to found Confluent, which helps organizations process large amounts of data on Apache Kafka.
With revenues of $388 million, the company went public in June 2021 at a $9.1 billion valuation. She and her family own around an 8 percent stake. Narkhede, who grew up in Pune, India, studied Computer Science at Georgia Tech and today advises numerous technology startups.
Narkhede was raised in Pune, Maharashtra, and went to the Pune Institute of Computer Technology (PICT), University of Pune, where she gained a Bachelor of Science in engineering. In 2007, she received a master’s in technology from Georgia Tech. In 2017, MIT Technology Review listed her as one of the innovators under 35. In the following year, Narkhede was listed as one of America’s and the world’s top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes.
Nooyi grew up in India and got an MBA from Yale before becoming one of corporate America’s few female CEOs in 2006. She retired from PepsiCo in 2019 after 24 years, half of which she spent in the top job.
Nooyi was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. She received a bachelor’s degree in physics, chemistry, and mathematics from Madras Christian College of the University of Madras in 1974, and a Post Graduate Program Diploma from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta in 1976. In 1978, Nooyi was admitted to Yale School of Management and moved to the United States of America where she earned a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management in 1980.
As CEO, she resisted a plan to break up PepsiCo, nearly doubled sales, and implemented healthier goods and ecologically responsible methods. Her fortune is derived from shares she received while working at PepsiCo. In 2019, Nooyi joined the board of Amazon.
She became a top alumni donor to Yale’s business school after giving an undisclosed amount in 2016.
While CEO of PepsiCo in 2011, Nooyi earned $17 million, which included a base salary of $1.9 million, a cash bonus of $2.5 million, pension value, and deferred remuneration of $3 million. By 2014, her total remuneration had grown to $19,087,832, including $5.5 million of equity.
Reshma Shetty co-founded Gingko Bioworks, a synthetic biotechnology company, in 2009 with four others, including her husband Barry Canton. Shetty received a Ph.D. in biological engineering at MIT, where she met Ginkgo Bioworks’ other co-founders. Ginkgo, named after a dinosaur-era tree, uses data analytics and robotics to speed up the process of discovering and making new organisms.
Ginkgo Bioworks went public in a SPAC merger in September 2021, and its shares fell 80 percent from their peak in November through mid-May 2022. As Covid-19 spread, the company opened its Boston facilities for research into the coronavirus and to ramp up testing for the disease.
Shetty was born to Hindu Indian parents in Manchester, England, and was raised in both England and Richmond, Virginia, having moved to the United States at age 15. Shetty received her Master of Music in performance from the University of Kentucky before moving on to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where she earned her artist diploma in opera in 2005.
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