The following you will read two stories of accomplished women, who when faced with the opportunity, combined their passion and embrace for the entrepreneurial spirit to achieve new visions of personal and professional accomplishment.
As recently featured in Fortune Magazine, the shy and extremely private, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken rarely speaks to the press or goes out of her way to draw attention to herself. In her own words she has said, “I’ve always been quite happy to be anonymous.” But often times, personal ambitions and life’s intended direction are altered in their course by factors beyond an individual’s control. The only child of the late Freddy Heineken, Charlene is the sole heir to the Heineken fortune and the controlling shareholder of what is now the world’s third-largest brewer. Charlene spent her life happily below the radar in London, raising five children with her banker husband Michel, who was a former child actor and Olympic skier, until the death of her father Freddy Heineken, who brought the premium beer brand to America after Prohibition and built the company brand into a world brewing power-house estimated to be worth $45 billion.
Charlene De Carvalho-Heineken now controls 51% of Heineken Holding NV, a public company listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, which in turn owns 50.05% of Heineken NV, also listed on the Amsterdam exchange. Though she joined the board of Heineken Holding NV in 1988 she showed little interest in the daily operations of the family business until after her father died. On the day of Freddy’s funeral in 2002 Charlene, with the support of her husband Michel de Carvahlo, Vice Chairman of Citigroup, decided that it would be prudent to have a member of the Heineken family involved in the companies operation.
With considerable trepidation, she faced up to the challenge that fate thrust upon her and got actively involved in Heineken’s brewery operations all around the world. Aided by Michael, the couple was instrumental in the decision to bring in Jean Francois van Boxmeer, as Heineken’s CEO in 2005. Since then the company has acquired the brands Dos Equis and Bohemia and successfully fended off a take-over bid by SABMiller’s late last year in an effort to insure that controlling interest in the family founded company would be passed on to the next Heineken generation. Clearly the once unassuming and somewhat disinterested heiress to one of the world’s most formidable and successful companies has risen to the challenge to become, what husband Michael calls his wife, “The lady who throws the switch.”
Megyn Kelly grew up in a middle-class suburb of Albany, NY. She was the youngest of three children born to a father who was an education professor at the State University of New York at Albany, and her mother who ran the behavioral-health department at a Veterans Administration hospital. At age 15 her life and comfortable middle-class life-style was shattered by the untimely passing of her father. As a high school senior, Megyn listed her future hopes in three words: “College, government, wealth.” After a high-school aptitude test suggested that a career in journalism news would be well suited for Megyn, she sought to attend the communication program at Syracuse University, but after being rejected to the program she switched her major to political science and went on to receive a J.D. from Albany Law School and embarked on a successful career in corporate litigation.
But in 2003, Megyn decided to turn her focus back to her original career choice. Armed with an inert sense of purpose, personal enthusiasm and perseverance she reset her sights on a career in journalism news and cut a TV news demo tape with help from a friend and began cold-calling station managers. Bill Lord, then the news director of WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington had never given a job to somebody off the street with no experience, but Kelly’s tape and her subsequent interview motivated him to act. “She was very intelligent, there’s just no getting around it,” he said. “She was enormously confident. She seemed very, very motivated. She had ideas.” He hired her on a tryout basis which led to a longer term contract.
Today Kelly is the host of her own prime-time news program on the Fox News Channel. With an audience of 2.8 million viewers “The Kelly Files” became the highest-rated non-sports program in its time slot in all of basic cable in 2014. For Roger Ailes, the Fox News Channel chairman and chief executive, Kelly has become his “breakthrough artist,” the one who will define Fox’s future. Time magazine has named Kelly as one of the 100 “most influential people in the world” for 2014.
The entrepreneurial spirit can mobilize individuals under less than ideal circumstances to set an example of what hard work and passion can yield. What’s your calling?
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