THE BLOG
12/11/2015 11:28 am ET Updated Dec 10, 2016

13 Brilliant Women Innovators and Subject Matter Experts Corporations Should Keep Their Eye On

There is a fascinating article in Wired Magazine on Ash Carter, Secretary of Defense. The story can be summed up by the fact that Mr. Carter is creating a much needed culture shift at the Department of Defense. Aside from disrupting the old DOD model, what particularly struck me was his keen interest in collaborating with tech geniuses in Silicon Valley; including entrepreneurs, corporate execs and the venture capital community.

Mr. Carter's visits to the valley were surprising and impressive, but the fact that he's opened an office in Mountain View, CA is nothing short of amazing. It is called the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). My expectation is that Mr. Carter will mandate that this new model will be intentional to include women and African American innovators, inventors and subject matter experts. Particularly the amazing pool of world-class talent from Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley.

In my last article, I wrote about the business geniuses that every leader should know with a particular concentration on Black male entrepreneurs and executives. It is only fair to balance that out with the women geniuses that every leader should know, and for the same reasons.

People who are successful serve as role models for those who want to follow in their footsteps. It is not necessary, of course, that they have exactly the same background. But when segments of the population have no one of a similar gender, race or background to emulate, it sometimes fosters the impression that success is not possible for them.

It is long past time that the only females known in the world of technology not be limited to Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. However, the business and science professions don't have any women who are renowned the world over outside of their own niches.

When half the world's population have no role models of their own gender in important industries, it is more difficult to develop a culture of success. There are programs now, to teach girls and young women skills in sectors where they are often met with hostility. Introducing the women who have forged through the hurdles of careers in these same sectors will imbue these young girls with the knowledge that success is possible.

The names on this list include women who Ash Carter should certainly be aware of, others who should be familiar to Fortune 500 companies and top venture capital firms such as Kleiner Perkins, GE Ventures, Intellectual Ventures and Enterprise Ireland. They represent only a tiny percentage of women who are leaders across a variety of industries. Hopefully, one day, we will have a list at least as long that is familiar to the general public.

Who are they and how did we come to compile this list, you ask? We followed three main criteria where each fit into at least one or more of these buckets. First, they have either increased the bottom line or identified new revenue streams for their companies. Second, they are preparing their organizations to harness the future today in order to be more sustainable and relevant. Third, has lead innovation for three decades, and in one case holds over 175 patents.

Here is our list of incredible women leaders you must get to know and pass along their names to current and future generations of aspiring women business rock stars:

1. Aisha Bowe - Co-Founder and CEO, STEMBoard (former NASA Aerospace Engineer)
2. Nichol Bradford - CEO & Founder, Willow Group, a Transformative Technology company
3. Adriane Brown - President & COO, Intellectual Ventures
4. Kesha Cash - Partner, Impact America Fund
5. Marian Croak - VP, Access Strategy & Emerging Markets, Alphabet
6. Nancy Douyon - User Experience Researcher, Google
7. Thasunda Duckett - CEO, Chase Auto Finance, JPMorgan Chase
8. Dambisa Moyo - Global Economist, Author, Investor
9. Window Snyder - Chief Security Officer, Fastly
10. Mona Sutphen - Partner, Macro Advisory Partners
11. Regina Wallace-Jones - Sr. Director, Technology & Operations, Yahoo!
12. Robin Washington - CFO, Gilead Sciences
13. Crystal Watkins-Johansson, MD., Ph.D. - Director, Memory Clinic in Neuropsychiatry at Sheppard Pratt; Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine