Two Indian-American Women Leaving the Glass Ceiling Far Behind

Jenn Greenleaf

Female entrepreneurs and executives are building fortunes and creating companies in many industries, from wholesale distribution to software development and everything in between. On July 11, 2018, Forbes released its fourth annual list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, which tracks the country's most successful self-made executive and entrepreneurial women by their net worths.

That's where technology executives Jayshree Ullal and Neerja Sethi, both of Indian origin, found themselves: listed among sixty other women, including Oprah Winfrey and Kylie Jenner. Ullal landed the 18th position on the list, with a net worth of $1.3 billion, and Sethi was 21st, with $1 billion.

Fifty-seven years old, Ullal was born in London, raised in India, and is now living in Saratoga, California. Since 2008, she's been president and CEO of the computer networking firm Arista Networks. She owns about 5 percent of the company's stock, some of which she earmarked for both of her children, as well as her niece and nephew.

Forbes discusses how Ullal made her start, leaving Cisco to work for Arista Networks. She took the company public in 2014 when it was worth $2.75 billion; it's now worth $19 billion. That valuation brought her net worth to its current $1.3 billion and made her one of the 72 richest women on the planet.

When asked about how she believes her work is breaking the glass ceiling for women throughout the world, Ullal says, "I believe the glass ceiling is an artificial barrier in the era ahead. Global women (and men) can break through these barriers with their talent, capabilities, perseverance, and results."

Neerja Sethi, now 63 and  residing in Fisher Island, Florida, is vice president of Syntel, an IT consulting and outsourcing company. She and her husband cofounded it in 1980, working at first from their apartment while living in Troy, Michigan.

Forbes stated that Sethi started with an initial investment of $2,000; during her first year, she landed only $30,000 in sales. Contrast that with a more recent figure: her 23,000 employees at Syntel—80 percent of whom are in India—brought in $924 million in revenues during 2017.

According to The Times of India, "The combined net worth of the 60 women on the list is a record $71 billion, 15 percent more than 2017. The minimum net worth to make Forbes' fourth annual ranking of these top women jumped 23 percent to a record $320 million."