Household names Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and Jenny Craig are on the list. But Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman and CEO of global travel, hospitality and relationship marketing giant Carlson Companies, outranks them all.
Working Woman magazine lists Nelson and Carlson Companies third on the publication`s “Top 500 Women-Owned Businesses” list published in the June issue. In 1999, Nelson and the company were ranked fourth.
Says the magazine in a feature page about Nelson, “Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising paradox of all is that it`s a sixty-something woman in the Midwest rather than a twenty-something in Silicon Valley who`s led the way in developing the sophisticated technology that`s now transforming the travel business.”
Overseeing one of the largest privately held corporations in the world (1999 systemwide sales under the brands - $31.4 billion), Nelson became president and CEO of Carlson Companies in 1998 and chairman of the board in 1999. She serves on the boards of Exxon Mobil Corporation, U S West, and is the “Millennium Chair” of the Travel Industry Association of America.
In addition, Nelson is a member of the World Travel and Tourism Council and has led the Travel and Tourism Section at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The magazine notes, “Thanks to her high-tech savvy, Nelson has already given a huge boost to Carlson Companies.” It continues, “Using new systems that take advantage of advances in telecommunications and artificial intelligence, Carlson can run mammoth customer-loyalty programs, track clients` preferences worldwide, find last-minute customers for unsold vacation packages and other travel services in 140-plus countries, and provide traveler services in eight languages, anywhere, 24-7.”
In addition to Nelson and Carlson Companies, the top five women and companies on Working Woman`s list are: (1) Pat Moran, CEO, president, JM Family Enterprises, Deerfield Beach, Florida; (2) Abigail Johnson, senior vice president, Equities, Fidelity Investments, Boston; (4) Marion O. Sandler, chair and CEO, Golden West Financial, Oakland, California; and (5) Joyce Raley Teel, co-chair, Raley`s, West Sacramento, California.
Oprah Winfrey ranks 86th, Martha Stewart ranks 63rd and Jenny Craig ranks 43rd.