Want to be a Fortune 500 CEO? Be a Girl Scout

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Your section Girl Scout unit could beryllium incubating nan adjacent Fortune 500 CEO.

Eight women leaders of Fortune 500 companies were erstwhile Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, aliases more, according to an study by Fortune staff. 

“It’s nary astonishment that truthful galore women successful activity roles were astatine 1 clip a Girl Scout,” nan Girl Scouts of nan USA’s CEO, Bonnie Barczykowski, told Fortune when asked astir nan results. 

Current Fortune 500 CEOs who are Girl Scouts alumnae see General Motors’ Mary Barra, Centene’s Sarah London, Oracle’s Safra Catz, General Dynamics’ Phebe Novakovic, Bath & Body Works’ Gina Boswell, Edward Jones Investments’ Penny Pennington, and Graybar Electric’s Kathleen Mazzarella.

Famous for their seasonal action of delectable desserts including Thin Mints, Trefoils, Tagalongs, and Caramel deLites, nan Girl Scouts really run nan largest girl-led entrepreneurial programme successful nan world, trading complete 200 cardinal boxes annually and generating astir $1 billion, according to Barczykowski.   

“It is simply a play of clip successful which they prosecute into nan financial acquisition portion and study really to beforehand their cooky business arsenic young entrepreneurs,” Barczykowski said.

Many of these CEOs told Fortune that nan acquisition really mattered for their careers.

“Being a Girl Scout gave maine an opportunity to research caller ideas and measurement extracurricular of my comfortableness zone, which helped maine summation assurance and a belief successful my abilities,” Mazzarella, who’s helmed Graybar Electric since 2012, told Fortune in an emailed statement. “The timeless life lessons I learned arsenic a Girl Scout influenced maine passim my profession and proceed to style nan measurement I lead today.”

Pennington, who joined Edward Jones successful 2000 earlier becoming managing partner successful 2019, spent respective years arsenic a Girl Scout successful nan early 1970s.

“Brownies and Girls Scouts near a lasting belief connected me—my assurance successful learning caller things, nan nosy of moving arsenic a troop, and nan committedness of adults who were guiding us,” Pennington said successful an emailed statement. “Those are values I still talk astir to this time and transportation guardant successful life, decades later.” 

The list besides extends to erstwhile members of Fortune 500 C-suites, for illustration erstwhile IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, erstwhile Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, and erstwhile Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg. Other business leaders see erstwhile YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, erstwhile JCPenny CEO Jill Soltau, and erstwhile Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

The 2023 Fortune 500 ranking marked a caller milestone for female leaders, pinch much than 10% of America’s largest companies classed by gross being tally by women for nan first time. 

The past has shifted successful nan past twelvemonth owed to caller exits including Roz Brewer from Walgreens Boots Alliance, Elizabeth Burr from Rite Aid, Julie Sloat from American Electric Power, and Barbara Smith from Commercial Metals. Still, newcomers successful nan shape of MDU Resources’ Nicole Kivisto, Levi Strauss & Co.’s Michelle Gass, and Chemours’ Denise Dignam person ensured that 52 companies retired of nan 500 still stay led by women. (And yes, 8 retired of 52 members coming from nan ranks of nan Girl Scouts is simply a higher percent than female CEOs connected nan Fortune 500, 15.3% to 10.4%.)

The 2024 Fortune 500 ranking will debut successful June. Last year, nan apical 10 companies unsocial posted $3.7 trillion successful revenue, pinch nan full database representing two-thirds of nan U.S. GDP.

On my honor

One successful each 3 women successful nan United States was astatine 1 clip a Girl Scout, according to Barczykowski, but nan main executive herself was not 1 of them.  

“There’s ever a mic driblet erstwhile I stock that I was ne'er successful Girl Scouting,” Barczykowski said. 

Founded successful 1912 pinch a ngo of school young girls valuable skills for illustration camping, organization service, and first aid, nan Girl Scouts of nan USA has since grown to complete 1 cardinal progressive members and 50 cardinal alumnae. 

“When I meet women from astir nan nation, and I inquire them astir their Girl Scout experience, whether they were successful Girl Scouts 1 year, 3 years, 10 years, aliases 13, they each person memories and experiences that they necktie backmost to that had influenced them successful their lives,” Barczykowski said. 

The organization’s power stretches crossed nan state pinch 111 councils, and moreover outer space. The first American female to locomotion successful space, Kathryn Sullivan, said she prioritized “filling up her sash” pinch badges arsenic a young unit member. 

The group’s scope besides extends to politics; nan halls of Capitol Hill and nan White House are filled pinch erstwhile members. According to nan Girl Scouts, 56% of women successful nan 117th Congress (2021-2022) were known to beryllium alums. Plus, each female caput of authorities successful U.S. history was a Girl Scout aliases Girl Guide alum, including Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton.

“A mostly of nan women astronauts were astatine 1 clip Girl Scouts, a mostly of our folks who are successful nan Senate and nan House were astatine 1 clip Girl Scouts,” Barczykowski said. 

Hollywood besides boasts a roster of Girl Scout stars, including Carrie Fisher, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Reese Witherspoon. Music superstar Taylor Swift served arsenic a Girl Scout successful her autochthonal Pennsylvania, and notably donated free tickets to her 2018 Reputation circuit to troops successful New Jersey and Connecticut. Even more, nan Girl Scouts tin count connected existent royalty arsenic erstwhile members:s Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. 

“When I deliberation of immoderate of nan leaders that lead different organizations, some nonprofits and corporations and foundations, they were astatine 1 clip Girl Scouts,” Barczykowski said. “Again, nary astonishment erstwhile you perceive astir nan skills that they built from erstwhile they were young that they’ve carried into these astonishing careers.”

Badges and business

Fortune 500 and Global 500 companies person collaborated pinch GSUSA to money caller programs and program for young girls–complete pinch themed badges to capable their sashes. 

Fannie Mae CEO Priscilla Almodovar told Fortune she was a “big instrumentality of badges” arsenic a Girl Scout, and she still remembers her first camping travel pinch her troop.

“Badges made maine funny to effort retired and study caller things, gave maine nan assurance that I tin build caller skills and summation knowledge, and taught maine to clasp myself accountable,” Almodovar said successful an emailed statement. “I besides learned astir teamwork and moving alongside different girls.”

Priscilla Almodovar

GM CEO Mary Barra, a erstwhile Brownie, told Fortune that being a Girl Scout “exposes girls and young women to caller experiences and opportunities they whitethorn person ne'er imagined,” and helped present caller STEM-themed badges. 

In 2020, her institution announced a $1 cardinal assistance to thief nan statement create STEM programming and thatch members astir nan designing, engineering, and manufacturing of vehicles.

“We are proud of our activity pinch Girl Scouts of nan USA to thief motorboat a bid of STEM and Automotive badges,” GM CEO Barra said successful an emailed statement. “We request much women successful STEM fields and Girl Scouts is an unthinkable statement inspiring nan innovators of nan future.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by chap Fortune 500 leader Gina Boswell, CEO of Bath & Body Works, whose institution provided immoderate seed backing for a 220-acre immersive STEM and Leadership Campus in Galloway, Ohio. 

Boswell told Fortune she was “a proud Girl Scout from nan clip I was six years aged consecutive done my freshman twelvemonth of precocious school.”

“One of nan biggest takeaways from my Girl Scouts acquisition was nan value of community, work to others and creating a consciousness of belonging,” Boswell said successful an emailed statement. “When you go a Girl Scout, you recognize for nan first clip that there’s much to life than conscionable your individual aforesaid – you recognize that you’re portion of a larger collective.” 

But it besides seems for illustration each those cooky income really taught a business lesson, on nan way.

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