It’s always a good thing when lists like the Fortune India Most Powerful Women (MPW) in business see churn. After all, in a country of over 1.3 billion, there will be so many, many women who are making a mark in their chosen fields in the world of business, across sectors. And it’s only natural that they will, at some point or other, figure on the list as they grow their businesses and move onward in their journey. This year is one such year of churn: There are as many as 14 new faces, from a wide variety of sectors, and they are success stories in their own right. Whether it is Anupriya Acharya, CEO of media buying firm Publicis Media India who is steering the company through the new digital media age; or Chetna Gala Sinha, founder of Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank, a bank for rural women; or Falguni Nayar, the astute investment banker-turned entrepreneur who has built a successful cosmetics business in Nykaa despite intense competition, these new faces give us hope that despite the enormous challenges which women face at work and at home, there are so many who are successfully breaking barriers and forging their own paths to success.
There’s been churn at the top of the list as well, with the first three names from last year yielding place to others, albeit for very different reasons. While last year’s No. 1 Arundhati Bhattacharya retired from the top job at State Bank of India, Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank’s MD and CEO, who was at No. 2, has failed to make it to the list because of the ongoing investigation against her relating to allegations of impropriety. Shikha Sharma, the Axis Bank boss who was third last year, has dropped to No. 10 owing to the Reserve Bank of India’s decision to deny her a fourth term and the poor performance of the bank of late. But equally, this year’s list is also about the continuing success of those women who have graced it for years. Now in its eighth year, the Fortune India MPW list has 19 names that have figured in all editions, a sign of their continuing success and resilience as names to reckon with in the world of business. Topping the list this year is ace lawyer Zia Mody, whose legal acumen and clout in the world of business is legendary. Mody is also among the 19 who have been on the list in all eight years.
Of course, it’s never easy to whittle down so many names to a final list of 50, but as always, Fortune India’s journalists—together with senior associate editor Aveek Datta who coordinated this project—began their work months in advance, digging deep into their own data and those provided by the candidates for the period under review (July 2017 to June 2018), speaking to experts and doing their own research. After several meetings, the editorial team arrived at the final 50 names about whom you will read in the pages that follow. There was, of course, enough discussion and debate on some names, like that of newcomer Anushka Sharma, the actor who is also an entrepreneur with a successful film production business and fashion line. But Sharma’s business acumen in choosing the right productions (which have generated hefty returns on investment) and her growing fashion business finally earned her a place in this year’s MPW. As more and more women shatter the glass ceiling and demand their share of the spotlight, we are confident that future editions of MPW will see more new faces earning their place on this elite list.