Leading ladies

Carol Bartz, president and chief executive officer, Yahoo

As president and CEO of internet services outfi t Yahoo, Carol Bartz would have made the list anyway but the recent announcement of a tie-up between Yahoo and Nokia has given her infl uence on the mobile sector a significant boost.

Robin Bienfait, chief information officer, Research In Motion

Bienfait retired from AT&T on a full pension after 22 years with the carrier. But a life of leisure offered little appeal and she joined Research in Motion, the Canadian firm behind the hugely successful Blackberry family of products in January 2007.

Shirin Dehghan, co-founder and chief executive, Arieso

An engineering graduate, Shirin Dehghan, founded location-aware network optimisation fi rm Arieso in 2002. She started her career developing radio propagation products for a UK startup, before joining Vodafone as a research engineer.

Teresa Elder, president of strategic partnerships and wholesale, Clearwire

The WiMAX trumpets have been drowned out of late by the chorus of approval for LTE but the ‘other 4G technology’ has not disappeared. Clearwire is the poster child for the WiMAX campaign and Teresa Elder, a former Vodafone executive like her Clearwire boss Bill Morrow, has a key role in the company.

Huang Wenlin, vice president, China Mobile

The numbers surrounding China Mobile only seem to get more mind boggling.

The firm had just short of 550 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter this year, according to Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Information Service. China Mobile’s network consists of 530,00 base stations, with 160,000 alone dedicated to its TD-SCDMA homegrown 3G network.

Peggy Johnson, senior vice president, Americas and India, Qualcomm

Were it not for the enthusiasm of administrative staff from San Diego State University’s electrical engineering department, says Peggy Johnson, she would never have ended up in the tech space. Mistaken for a departmental student while delivering mail on campus to support herself as a business major, Johnson was collared by two secretaries and duly changed her course on the back of their sales pitch. Now executive vice president of the Americas and India for San Diego-headquartered Qualcomm, Johnson has been with the company for more than 20 years.

Lucy Lombardi, VP international groups & standards, Telecom Italia

Lucy Lombardi is vice president for International Groups & Standards at Telecom Italia. She is responsible for representing TI and communicating its positions within a range of standards bodies and industry associations as well as developing new business opportunities. She is also director of business initiatives at the GSM Association.

Mary McDowell, head of Mobile Phones, Nokia

Mary McDowell has been at Nokia, the world’s largest handset vendor, since 2004. She joined as head of the Finnish firm’s enterprise unit, responsible for the high end E-series handset portfolio and a range of mobility and security solutions targeted at corporate users. In the same year she was appointed a member of the Nokia Group Executive Board.

Betty Mwangi-Thuo, chief new products officer, Safaricom

One of three women on Kenyan operator Safaricom’s 12-strong senior management team, Betty Mwangi-Thuo is chief officer for new products. She oversees the firm’s value added service department, as well as all of its projects that intersect with the GSM Association.

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for the Information Society and Media

Probably the most influential woman in the mobile industry, Commissioner Reding has not won a great deal of friends among mobile operators. Whether you see her as a slick, populist politician interfering in a market that is best left to set its own levels, or as a consumer champion who has broken the back of cosy operator pricing cartels, there is no denying her impact.

Kristin Rinne, senior vice president for architecture and planning, AT&T

One of the most senior women in the industry, Kristin Rinne has more than 30 years’ experience in telecoms. Today she is responsible for the IT and Network architecture and planning for AT&T, the second largest cellular network in the US, with almost 90,000 subscribers at the end of Q1 this year. She is also responsible for Product Development for AT&T products and services.

Liliana Solomon, chief executive, Vodafone Romania

A former chief financial officer at both Cable & Wireless and T-Mobile in the UK, Solomon began her career in the telecoms industry in 1995 at a German start-up. “I was attracted by this sector due to the fact that the entire telecom market was about to get liberalised in Europe. It was clear to me that the industry would change dramatically in the years to come and open up a whole new range of challenges and opportunities,” she says.

Sue Spradley, head of north America region, Nokia Siemens Networks

Formerly the president of Nortel’s Global Services and Operations, where she led the Canadian firm’s engineering, manufacturing and supply chain management, Sue Spradley joined Nokia Siemens Networks in July 2007 as the firm’s head of North America. The move was a return to the fold of sorts as, prior to joining Nortel, Spradley had served as vice president of marketing and product development for Siemens Communications’ North American business.

Stephanie Tilenius, vice president, e-commerce, Google

The announcement that Tilenius was joining Google came a matter of minutes after CEO Eric Schmidt’s keynote presentation at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. And as one operator executive pointed out, hiring the woman who created PayPal for eBay was probably not done “so that Google can interface more successfully with operator billing systems.”

Sun Yafang, chairperson, Huawei

Few companies have established influence in the mobile industry as quickly and effectively as Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei.

Cher Wang, chairman and co-founder, HTC

If women in senior positions within mobile industry players are few and far between, then female founders of powerful firms are truly scarce. But in Cher Wang, handset vendor HTC has just that. Wang co-founded the firm with current CEO Peter Chou, and remains chairman.