Fortune said Ms Barra had led the $156bn company "out from under the shadow" of the recall and in recent months has beaten back headwinds from weak international markets, as sales of expensive trucks and SUVs have soared.
Fortune's top 10 World's Most Powerful Women
- Mary Barra, General Motors
- Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo
- Ginni Rometty, IBM
- Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin
- Ellen Kullman, DuPont
- Abigail Johnson, Fidelity Investments
- Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard
- Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook
- Irene Rosenfield, Mondelez International
- Phebe Novakovic
Second place Indra Nooyi has led Pepsico, a company worth .6bn, for nine years. In the past year she has fought off a challenge from activist investor Nelson Peltz and managed to increase organic revenue by 4pc, despite a shift in consumers’ tastes toward kale and quinoa.
In third place, Ginni Rometty is restructuring software company IBM to focus on cloud technologies. The company has suffered a string of disappointing results and failed to stem falling sales. In 2014, revenues at IBM slumped 6pc to .8bn.
Angela Ahrents, the former chief executive of Burberry who is now head of retail at Apple, took sixteenth place in list of 51 businesswomen.
Judith McKenna, the former chief operating officer of Asda who now works for the supermarket's parent-company Walmart, is one of a handful of British women to have made the list.
Ms McKenna, who studied law at Hull University, has led Walmart’s push to open more than 200 new stores this year. She also helped lead the company’s initiative to increase starting wages to an hour.
London-born Marianne Lake, chief finance officer at JP Morgan Chase, also made the top 40. She oversees a balance sheet with $2.4 trillion worth of assets and is one of two women on the bank’s 10-person operating committee.
World's most powerful women, 11-20
11. Carol Meyrowitz, TJX Companies
12. Safra Catz, Oracle
13. Lynn Good, Duke Energy
14. Helena Foulkes, CVS Health
15. Rosalind Brewer, Sam's Club, Walmart