They get everywhere, powerful women. Here in Spain, they’re in politics doing important things like running the country’s economy and defence – and Madrid. They occupy the boss roles in every field from science and academia to the arts and publishing, from the National Cancer Research Centre to El Pais
Here’s a shout-out to 20 of the most powerful and influential businesswomen in the land. Some have had an easier ascent than others.
Maria Benjumea, founder & director, South Summit
BENJUMEA (Madrid 1954) devised this international matchmaking event which has been connecting tens of thousands of talented techies with global investors, accelerators, mentors, facilities . . . and tens of millions of euros since 2012. The event is a showcase, diverting the spotlight from Silicon Valley and onto southern European talent for a few days each year. In between, South Summit exists as a platform, one of the most important in the world, keeping entrepreneurs connected and raising the profile of Spain’s tech hubs.
Sol Daurella, president, Cobega
SHE’S one of the richest women in Spain and one of the most powerful in business, but you’ve probably never heard of Daurella (Barcelona, 1966). Her grandfather’s Catalan bottling company Cobega acquired the Coca-Cola licence for Spain. Under Daurella’s direction, the family biz now has the licence for Coca-Cola’s entire Euro Pacific region, worth €7.4 billion. She doesn’t need to lift a finger, but remains hands-on and combines the day job with philanthropic activities in the areas of education and cancer research. Curiously, she was also Barcelona’s Honorary Consul for Iceland for a while.
Macarena Rey, CEO, Shine Iberia
REY (Madrid 1969) is responsible for feeding Spanish TV audiences a string of high-ranking, easy viewing from MasterChef to La Isla, Vidas Robadas, and Maestros de la Costura. Invited by Elisabeth Murdoch to set up Shine Iberia in 2011, neither the birth of her two children nor breast cancer has stopped this experienced producer from creating top hits. She says good organisation and a loyal, predominantly female production team, helps. Others put it down to an indefatigable fighting spirit.
Maria Dolores Dancausa, CEO, Bankinter
DANCAUSA (Burgos 1959) studied law, then business at Harvard and settled for a career in the financial sector. For the past 13 years she has been CEO of Bankinter, a bank with a turnover of €1.7 billion. In 2021 Forbes named her CEO of the Year for a second time – the only person (male or female) to receive the honour twice.
Marta Ortega, president, Inditex
PERHAPS there was an inevitability about her 2021 appointment at the world’s biggest fast fashion group what with her father Amanecio Ortega being the founder, but Marta Ortega (Vigo, 1984) seems to be doing a good job: quarterly profits for the group (which includes the likes of Zara, Pull&Bear, Stradivarius, and Oysho), were up nearly 25% after her first 18 months. Reported to be on a €1 million salary, part of her brief is to reposition Zara as a ‘creative powerhouse’ rather than a shop for cheap disposable stuff. Queen Letizia helped out when a photograph of her sporting a red Zara dress went viral.
Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitisation and Artificial Intelligence
YES, she’s a politician, but she draws from a solid business background in tech innovation. In 1996, Artigas (Catalonia, 1968) launched one of the first incubators for entrepreneurs in Barcelona; three years later she became the youngest CEO in her sector when she was put in charge of Ericsson Tech VC fund; and in 2015, Telefonica acquired the big data/AI company, Synergic Partners, she founded. Now she is a champion of entrepreneurs and driving a digital economy that she reckons will contribute 25% of Spain’s GDP this year.
Pilar Lopez, COO, Microsoft Western Europe
DESCRIBING herself as ‘a businesswoman and mother of twins’ Lopez has responsibility for Microsoft projects, including the digitisation of everything and the advance of AI-powered search tool Bing in 14 countries. In her spare time, she is a vocal advocate for women in leadership, and involved with the Digital Future Society Think Tank.
Fuencisla Clemares, country manager, Google, Spain and Portugal
CLEMARES (Madrid 1974) became regional head of Google in 2016. Being in the minority as a female senior tech leader means that you are visible and memorable she says, but there are drawbacks too: ‘For better or worse our management style is different, and generally this is judged by men, who have the responsibility of promoting and supporting you, and don’t always understand this style can be as effective as theirs.’
Paloma Real, general manager, Mastercard Spain
TELECOM engineer Real became only the second woman to snaffle the top role after just five years in the company. Since 2012, she’s been driving Spain’s evolution to seamless electronic payments, and, through the Women who Lead initiative, identifying new female talent, helping other women into senior jobs, and ensuring they don’t find the door to the office locked behind them when they take maternity leave.
Anabel Diaz, CEO, Uber Mobility (EMEA)
INDUSTRIAL engineering graduate Diaz (Murcia, 1975) joined hail-a-ride transport company Uber in 2019. Highly-driven, she was fast-tracked and became vice-president and got the regional CEO role the following year. Through her involvement in Women at Uber, she works to help steer other motivated women through the roadblocks to top roles in a company and sector where they’re few and far between.