The most powerful Serbian woman lives a quiet life and you’ve never heard of her

The most powerful Serbian woman in the world, a former CIA agent, a millionaire who has made it to the Forbes list, and a woman who kept her maiden name in both marriages is called Phoebe Novaković.

Phoebe Novaković is one of those women whose life could easily be made into a Hollywood movie. Today, she heads the powerful company called Macquarie Group, which is among the largest producers of defence technology commissioned by the US government. She occupies 88th place on the Forbes list of self-made women and has a personal net worth of $290 million.

She is also ranked 30th on the Forbes list of the most powerful women in the world.

And who exactly is Phoebe Novaković and how did she “climb” so high in that “man’s world”?

Her father was a Serbian immigrant who came to the US at the age of 17 with only $50 in his pocket. He spoke six languages, but not English. He managed to become an intelligence officer in the US Air Force. It was because of him that Phoebe chose to work for the government’s intelligence agency, but also the military industry.

“The opportunities that this country gave my father were really instilled in me at an early age and that’s why I really believe in serving the nation,” said Phoebe.

Born in 1958, Novaković studied liberal arts at Smith College after high school, and from there after 1979 she went to the CIA. She also graduated from the University of Pennsylvania while having two children and being pregnant with the third.

She eventually landed a job at the Office of Management and Budget during President Bush Sr.’s tenure.

She later worked for the Pentagon, and has been with General Dynamics since 2001. In the meantime, she became the CEO of the company, which is among the largest military collaborators of the US government.

“I’ve lived in Washington for a long time, and I’ve learned that it’s best to fly under the radar,” she said.

As expected, not much is known about her private life. She was reported to have been married twice, first to a man named Michael Vickers, and then in 1985, to David Morrison. She kept her maiden name in both marriages.

“My husband is my rock. I wouldn’t be able to do everything I do if it weren’t for him and the support he provides,” she once said.

(, 16.08.2022)

 Photo credits: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Profimedia

This post is also available in: Italiano

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