Who Inspired Fortune’s Most Powerful Women? 9 Executives Name Their Real Life Heroes

Behind every powerful woman today is an inspirational figure who encouraged them—directory or not—to climb the career ladder.

Fortune asked members of its Most Powerful Women community to name their real-world superheroes; here’s what they told us:

Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, chose tennis legend Billie Jean King. “She as a person felt so strongly about equality for women. And she used her platform to make a substantial difference for women tennis players and for women around the world,” Sherman said. “Now, she’s done the same for LGBT people as well.”

Melissa Hobley, chief marketing officer of OKCupid, picked talk show pioneer Oprah Winfrey. “She broke the mold and she took a huge risk and she was talking about self care before it was a buzzword,” Hobley said.

Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of Affectiva, named former First Lady Michelle Obama as her inspiration. “She worked really hard, which is a core value of mine and my family.”

Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint, says she’s been overwhelmed by what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “has done for women’s rights.” Meanwhile, Kat Cole, COO and North American president of Focus brands, cited her mother as her inspiration. “She is the pinnacle of grace and elegance and resilience and grit,” Cole said.

Watch the video for the full run-down of female leaders’ real-world heroes, and check out the rest of Fortune‘s International Women’s Day Superhero series here.

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