Top 10 Most Powerful Women Leaders in HR

6 min readAug 19, 2021

Numerous pursuits give one power based on the job position. HR is where power stems from one’s ability to influence.

Women who flourish in HR are especially adept at influencing people. Irrespective of company size, women leaders have portrayed how HR and CHRO roles have developed over the last decade.

Women leaders in HR

We, at peopleHum, are extremely thrilled to summarise a list of the 10 most influential women in HR, ones who have paved their way in the HR domain with mastery and excellence.

Top 10 most powerful women leaders in HR‍

1. Leena Nair

Leena Nair is Unilever’s first woman and youngest ever CHRO. She is a member of the Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE), in charge of the company’s performance and profitability.

She leads global people strategy that includes 160,000+ employees in more than 100 countries. As the first female CHRO at Unilever, her goal is to create an inclusive atmosphere where people of multicultural society may flourish equally.

During her time at Unilever India, Leena Nair established the Career by Choice initiative, which helped women who had dropped off the career ladder, owing to various obstacles.

“A great strategy is easy — you know the facts, figures and where the opportunities and consumers are. Organisations stumble at execution. HR can truly be that force which enables growth and allows businesses to translate its strategic intent into reality.”

2. Claude Silver‍

Claude Silver is the first Chief Heart Officer at Vayner Media. She is a coach, manager, and mentor who believes in emotional optimism.

She manages company size of 1200+, whilst being “in touch with the heartbeat of every single person in the company.”

Claude Silver’s studies focused on Transpersonal Psychology and Human Development. She has also excelled at integrated marketing and social media strategies.‍

“When we are leading with love, we are building a culture where radical candor discussions can happen that build ever deeper connections between co-workers and teammates.”

3. Risha Grant‍

Risha Grant is a host, author, diversity & inclusion expert, consultant and international key note speaker. She is the CEO of Risha Grant LLC, Oklahoma’s first, award-winning comprehensive communications and consulting agency.

The organisation specialises in community engagement and strategy planning, while also bridging the gap between the problematic areas of diversity and inclusion.

She wrote and published the book “That’s BS!” which portrays her personal anecdotes and experiences on how biases hinder the power to attract and recruit diverse candidates.

“The goal of every company should be to create value around their employee’s differences so they have permission to be themselves.”

4. Rachele Focardi

Rachele Focardi is the founder of XYZ@Work, recognized as the Top Influencer in Asia. She is the best-selling author of the book “Reframing Generational Stereotypes.”

Her focus is greatly prioritized on generational diversity in the workplace. She is also Chair of the Multigenerational Workforce Committee for the ASEAN Human Development Organization, Board Member of Future Talent Council, and Mentor at Workplace Accelerator. Rachele Focardi is among the global thought-leaders, and an international public speaker on multigenerational workforce dynamics.‍

“Intergenerational Collaboration is key in order for organizations to be able to unleash the true power of their human capital”

5. Amelia Ransom

Amelia Ransom is an HR-executive with 20+ years of expertise in HR functions. She is a keynote and motivational speaker, who focuses on people growth, culture & diversity.

She is currently the VP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Smartsheet. Her area of expertise also greatly includes learning & development (L&D) and early in career strategy development.‍

“The work of retraining your brain and your business about the truth of what success in diversity looks like is hard, the truth is uncomfortable, and the journey is long.”

6. Dr. Diane Hamilton‍

Why EQ supersedes IQ

Dr. Diane Hamilton, founder of Tonerra, is an experienced leader, author, national radio host, keynote speaker, and former MBA Program Chair member at the Forbes School of Business.

She wrote multiple books including Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential, and The Power of Perception, required in universities around the world.‍

Dr. Diane is known for developing the first and only scale that identifies the conditions that limit curiosity, Curiosity Code Index®, along with the Perception Power Index which identifies the factors that influence perception.

“We don’t have to agree with other people to empathise with them. You just have to understand where they’re coming from.”

7. Anna Ott

Anna OTT is VP people at HV Captial, one of the leading Venture Capital firms in Europe. She is a Talent Advisor to +70 startups with more than two decades of experience in HR.

She has previously worked as an independent consultant for enterprises, SMEs, and start-ups. Anna Ott was an advisor to a number of HR technology companies across Europe.‍

“Every workplace is different due to different business models, levels of trust and leadership styles.”

8. Anna Tolmachova‍

Anna Tolmachova is the HR Director at Metro Cash & Carry Ukraine who manages 3500+ employees. She is a talent management expert, rated among the top 20 HRs in Ukraine.

She believes in setting global HR standards, while educating and engaging youth in the HR domain. Her expertise around the principles of HR are known to be certified by the leading platforms like SHRM & CIPD.‍

9. Gauri Das‍

Removing barriers to communication with HR tech

Gauri Das is a global TEDx speaker and mentor with 15+years of experience in aligning HR strategy with business goals. She is also the Membership Lead for the Mumbai Chapter of the Professional Speakers Associations of India (PSAI).

She is certified in Organizational Development from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and has completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration & HR from the well-recognised Symbiosis Institute.

“Adaptability makes one extremely valuable at the workplace since not everybody can embrace constant change.”

10. Surani Amerasinghe‍

Surani Amerasinghe is the Head of Human Resources at Lion Brewery, Sri Lanka’s leading collective in the market. She previously worked a Senior HR Business Partner at British American Tobacco.

She has mastered in Business Administration from American City University, conducted by the Institute of Technological Studies, Sri Lanka.

“Technology has always been available to the HIR profession but broader acceptance and adoption were required in most instances.”

Wrapping up on a high note! Whether directing their nation with a firm hand or aligning people management tools with business strategies, these leaders have prospered in making progress even in the most challenging organizational setbacks. There may not be a single cause for female domination in HR but by examining the gender imbalance, we may gain a better knowledge of how to reform the workplace on a national and international scale.