Just 27 women are CEO at Fortune 500 companies, but that number is likely about to grow.
On Thursday, Gap Inc. announced it will split into two independent publicly traded companies — one for its popular and affordable Old Navy brand and a second company, currently referred to as "NewCo," for the conglomerate's other brands, including Athleta, Banana Republic and Gap. "It's clear that Old Navy's business model and customers have increasingly diverged from our specialty brands over time, and each company now requires a different strategy to thrive moving forward," said Robert Fisher, Gap's board chairman.
Sonia Syngal, currently Old Navy's CEO, is expected to stay on with the brand as it becomes a publicly traded company. That would mean that 28 Fortune 500 companies currently have women CEOs, and six have women CEOs of color.
In 2017, there were a record-breaking 32 female executives serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies but by May of 2018, this number had dropped by 25 percent to just 24 female executives.
According to Fortune, Syngal first joined Gap Inc. in 2004 as the vice president of sourcing strategy before moving up to senior vice president of Old Navy's international business and later to executive vice president for Gap's global supply chain and product operations. In 2016, Syngal became president and CEO of Old Navy.
She earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University and a master's degree in manufacturing systems engineering from Stanford University. She serves on the Gap Foundation Board of Trustees and the national Board of Governors for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Before joining Gap Inc., Syngal spent 10 years working for Sun Microsystems and six years working for Ford.
"A breadth of different experiences is really important. I've been able to move around industries and types of roles within companies but I will say, all of my jobs have been core line jobs," she said. "Meaning core to creating the value that is essential to a company."
In addition to this strategic positioning, Syngal said she's made sacrifices she does not regret.
"You've got to be willing to take some risks and put in what can be seen as personal sacrifice," she said. "These roles consume a lot of you personally, of your family. But also the flip side is the experiences that that means for all of us is enormous as well. I mean, the things we get to do, we get to see."
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