This year’s Forbes list of the world’s billionaires features only 328 women out of a total of 2,668 billionaires. The combined net worth of all the female billionaires on the Forbes list amounts to a whopping $1.56 trillion.
While some of these women inherited their wealth, some worked hard and paved their way to success and ultimately became entrants to the billionaire’s list. In today’s article, we will look at the top 10 billionaire women of the world and the first job they ever had.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
First on the list is Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, in the top position of female billionaires for the second consecutive year with a total net worth of $74.8 billion. Meyers is the granddaughter of Eugene Schueller, the founder of the beauty giant L’Oréal.
Most of Meyers’ wealth comes from her 33% stake in the world’s largest cosmetic brand, which she inherited from her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, who died at 94 in 2017. Having served on the L’Oréal board since 1997, Meyers is currently the non-executive chairwoman of L’Oréal. The French businesswoman and her family are the 14th richest people in the world.
In addition to her work at L’Oreal, Meyers also serves as the president of her family’s philanthropic foundation, which encourages French arts and sciences. L’Oreal and the Bettencourt Meyers family donated $226 million to the Notre Dame Cathedral to aid restoration following the April 2019 fire.
Next on the list is Alice Walton, the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. With a net worth of $65.3 billion, Alice Walton sits in the 18th position on the world’s richest people’s list. The American heiress billionaire was the world’s richest woman in 2020 but lost her position to Francoise Bettencourt Meyers of L’Oréal.
In 1971, Alice Walton graduated from Trinity College, Texas, after which she briefly worked for Walmart as a buyer of children’s clothes. Her career in financing began in 1988 after she founded the investment banking firm Llama Company. Currently residing in Fort Worth, Texas, Alice Walton is the richest person in the state.
Unlike her brothers, Rob and Jim Walton, Alice is not directly involved in the company. Rather she is an avid art collector, a hobby she developed at a very young age, and has a personal art collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2011, Alice founded the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which features artworks from the likes of Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell.
Julia Margaret Flesher Koch
Julia Margaret Flesher Koch is the widow of an American businessman, philanthropist, and political donor David H. Koch of Koch Industries, the second largest private firm in the United States. She inherited a 42% stake in the Koch industries from her husband, who died in 2019 due to cancer.
Born in 1962, Julia Koch graduated from the University of Central Arkansas while working as a model. As an Iowa native, she moved to New York City in 1984, where she assisted ace fashion designer Adolfo.
Currently, Julia Koch is worth around $60 billion and serves as the board member of Koch Industries. Julia Koch also is the president of the David H Koch Foundation, which has funded numerous cancer research, and arts and science organizations.
Known for her involvement in Amazon, philanthropic efforts, and the now-dissolved marriage with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Scott is worth $43.6 billion. MacKenzie Scott and Jeff Bezos met in 1992 when they worked at hedge fund D.E. Shaw. The couple married the following year and moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1994.
MacKenzie Scott was one of the first employees of Amazon, where she was heavily involved in working on the company’s name, business planning, accounting, and logistics. In mid-2019, after 25 years of marriage, the couple decided to part ways, and MacKenzie Scott received 25% of Bezos’ share in Amazon.
Following the divorce settlement, MacKenzie Scott has donated more than $12.5 billion to over 1250 nonprofit organizations. Yet, MacKenzie Scott holds the 30th position on the billionaires’ list – thanks to the ever-rising stocks of Amazon.
With a net worth of $31.7 billion, Jacqueline Mars, the granddaughter of the founder of Mars, the world’s largest candy maker, is the fifth richest woman in the world. Mars Incorporated is known for the production of some of its most loved brands like M&M, Skittles, Snickers, and Uncle Ben.
In 1982, Jacqueline Mars joined the family business as the Food Product Group President and served on the board until 2016. Jacqueline Mars today owns one-third of the company and is one of the board members of the National Archives. Previously, Mars was also a part of the board of directors for the Washington National Opera.
Mars is the owner of a horse farm in Virginia where Olympic medalists have trained their horses. One of the most successful businesswomen around the globe, she is a mother of three and grandmother of six. Like every other billionaire on the list, Mars contributes a fair amount of her fortune to multiple charitable causes through the Mars Foundation.
Australia’s mining magnate and richest citizen Gina Rinehart is the sixth richest woman on the planet with a net worth of $28.4 billion. Rinehart is the chairman of the Australian mining and agriculture company Hancock Prospecting Group, founded by Rinehart’s father, Lang Hancock.
Gina Rinehart joined the University of Sydney, only to drop out to work with her father in the company. An only child, Rinehart joined the business as executive chairwoman after the death of her father in 1992, who had left the company in severe financial condition. She turned her father’s financially distressed company into Australia’s largest private company and one of the world’s largest mining houses.
Rinehart’s portfolio includes media company Ten Network Holdings, also known as Paramount Australia & New Zealand, and businesses in the agriculture sector. Her net worth dipped significantly in the early 2010s, but it gradually grew during 2020 thanks to the increased demand for Australian ore.
In January 2021, Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and Republican kingmaker, died at the age of 87. Following his death, his wife Miriam Adelson inherited a 50% stake in the Las Vegas Sands, the New York Stock Exchange-listed gambling empire. Sands Expo and Convention Center, the Venetian Las Vegas, Sands Macao, and Marina Sands Bay are some gaming hubs under the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
With a net worth of $27.5 billion, Miriam Adelson is the seventh richest woman and 50th richest person in the world. Born in Palestine, Miriam Adelson became a physician after completing her medical degree at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Medical School.
Post-divorce from her first marriage, Miriam Adelson went to Rockefeller University, New York, to work as an associate physician focusing on drug addiction. Before the death of Sheldon Adelson, the couple were GOP megadonors and had donated $180 million to fund the Republican campaigns.
Daughter of Herbert Quandt, the man behind BMW’s preeminence in the luxury car market, Susanne Klatten owns about 19% stake in the automobile company, making her the eighth richest woman in the world. Klatten is also the sole owner of Altana AG, a world-class pharmaceutical and chemical corporation.
Born in Bad Homburg, West Germany, Klatten’s first job was at an advertising agency, which she enrolled in after graduating in business finance. She further polished her professional experience by working with Dresdner Bank and McKinsey & Company (a global management consulting firm).
Though she inherited company stakes from her father, she now wholly owns Altana AG herself. Besides the family business, Klatten holds stakes in Entrust, a digital identity and security company, and SGL Carbon Se, a carbon and graphite producer.
Andrónico Luksic was a successful Chilean entrepreneur who made his fortune in mining and beverages. When he died of cancer in 2005, he left behind the business to his widow Iris Fontbona and their three children. Fontbona today is worth over $17.1 billion, making her the 67th richest person in the world and the ninth richest woman.
The wealthiest family in Chile, Fontbona and her children control Antofagasta Plc, a company trading on the London Stock Exchange that owns several copper mines in Chile. Additionally, the family owns a majority stake in Quinenco, a Chilean conglomerate dealing in the banking sector, a brewery, and a shipping company.
The family also owns two hotel chains in Croatia, Adriatic Luxury Resort and Laguna Porec. After the death of her husband, Fontbona managed to make their family business grow and reach new heights of success, making her one of the most successful businesswomen around the globe.
The current chairwoman and CEO of Boston-based Fidelity Investments, Abigail Johnson, inherited her fortune after taking over from her father, Ned Johnson III. Abigail owns an estimated 24.5% stake in the company, founded by her grandfather in 1946.
Having graduated from Harvard Business School, Abigail Johnson has served as the company’s CEO since 2014 and as chairwoman since 2016. Abigail joined Fidelity Investments from the very ground level and worked to the executive level. She first started by answering phone calls at Fidelity Investments and became a full-time employee as a stock analyst in 1988.
In 2018, Abigail Johnson embraced cryptocurrency and launched a crypto trading platform under the umbrella of Fidelity Investments. The Johnson family is also quite philanthropic and has been a frequent donor to numerous nonprofit organizations in Boston.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, these are the richest women in the world and the jobs or inheritances that put them at the top of their companies today. While most of these women have had their fortune inherited, they have managed to make positive change in their respective company’s business.