The president of Banco Santander, Ana Botín, has been named the most powerful woman in the world by Fortune magazine, in a new edition of the ranking that ranks the 50 most influential women and also places on the podium GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley, and the president of Gree Electric Appliances, Dong Mingzhu. In this way, Ana Botín returns to first place after having occupied second place last year. The North American leader highlights the bank's solid performance worldwide during 2018, with revenues amounting to 48,424 million euros.

"This growth has been largely achieved thanks to the bank's activity in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico, mainly) and has been supported by a reduction in costs in Europe," says the magazine. It also highlights the "progress" made since Ana Botín became president of Santander in 2014 to "strengthen the bank's capital, increase customer loyalty (which has grown 40% since 2015) and digitize platforms," with an increasing number of digital customers that amounted to 32 million at the end of last year.

The appointment of the president of Banco Santander as the most powerful woman in the world coincides with the fifth anniversary of her mandate, a period in which Santander has undergone a great cultural transformation while at the same time it has managed to underpin growth and improve its profitability and strength. According to a presentation that the bank's president made on Wednesday in London to investors, attributable profit in the last five years has grown 87% to 7,800 million euros, while profitability (measured through the RoTE) has increased by 210 basis points to 11.7%. In addition, the group has reinforced its level of capital CET1 Fully loaded to 11.3%, which represents an increase of 350 basis points in that period.

Influence thermometer

Fortune's list of the world's most powerful women has become a thermometer of the influence of the female gender in the world of business and large corporations. The magazine shows that in 2019 only 14 women head some of the 500 largest companies in the world, which represents a slight increase over the previous year when there were 12, but also shows that there is still room for improvement. A third of the women on this list are recruited as a result of their recent appointment as heads of large multinationals, such as Jessica Tan, CEO of the Chinese company Ping An Group; Ilham Kadri, CEO of the Belgian chemical multinational Solvay, or Emma Fitzgerald, of Puma Energy, one of Singapore's largest companies.

Also noteworthy are some women who have recently been promoted within their current firms, such as Andrea Marques de Almeida, CEO of Petrobras; Anne Rigail, of Air France; and Maki Akaida, of the Japanese textile company Uniqlo. Some of the members of this list (who come from 19 different countries) represent industries where women have rarely been seen at the top, from the chemical and petroleum sector to metal fabrication. "And while they are starting in their new roles that have largely not yet been tested, the important thing is that they can make a difference," says Fortune.