Country: Switzerland (Lebanon)
Nayla Hayek was elected chairwoman of the Swatch Group, the largest manufacturer of finished watches in the world, in July 2010.
Hayek, whose father co-founded the company, has been an active member of the board ever since her appointment in 1995. When her father died in 2010 he was ranked the 232nd richest person in the world with an estimated wealth of $3.9bn.
Swatch’s importance lies not just in the fact that it is such a huge manufacturer; it makes most of the parts that make other Swiss watches tick. With that expertise has come profits by the bucketload; net income was up 26 percent last year to $1.76bn.
The firm has been on the acquisition war path in recent years; its stable of brands includes Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Longines and Tissot. In January, the watch giant announced it had acquired the Harry Winston Diamond Corp.’s luxury goods operation in a deal valued at as much as $1bn.
Hayek splits her time between Biel, Switzerland, and Dubai. She is an international Arabian horse judge.