World’s Best CEOs: Members of our exclusive club share a high regard for innovation, growth, and shareholder return. Who’s in and who’s out on our 10th annual list

World’s Best CEOs
Members of our exclusive club share a high regard for innovation, growth, and shareholder return. Who’s in and who’s out on our 10th annual list.

image002-2 image005 image008 image033 image036 image039 image050 image053 image056 image059 image001-13 image003 image004 image006 image007 image010 image012 image013 image015 image016 image018 image019 image021 image022 image024 image025 image027 image028 image029 image030 image031 image032 image034 image035 image037 image038 image040 image041 image043 image044 image046 image047 image049 image051 image052 image054 image055 image057 image058 image060 image061
There’s plenty of valid criticism leveled against CEOs. They’re overpaid. They’re remote. They’re arrogant. They don’t care enough about shareholders. Activist investors like Carl Icahn earn a living from identifying these offenders and then encouraging them to change, leave, or sell their companies.
The best CEOs, however, are worth every penny of their pay. They possess an unusual set of qualities that enables their companies to stay ahead of rivals and deliver market-beating returns for shareholders. In our 10th annual list of the 30 best CEOs in the world,Barron’s again looks to identify those special leaders.
A dozen of them have guided their companies since inception —’s Jeff Bezos, BlackRock’s Laurence Fink,IntercontinentalExchange’s Jeffrey Sprecher, and SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son — and bring a founder’s passion to their jobs. The average tenure of CEOs on our list is 15 years, although in most cases that understates their commitment because many non-founders worked their way up through the ranks before getting the top job.
And investors matter. The shares of nearly every company on our list have outpaced the Standard & Poor’s 500 during their CEO tenure. Harsh as it is to say, if CEOs can’t beat the market over an extended period, they ultimately aren’t adding a lot of value. Investors would be better off in a low-cost S&P 500 index fund.
Some CEOs have generated phenomenal returns. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals,Netflix, Gilead Sciences, andPrecision Castparts are among the top 15 companies in the S&P 500 in shareholder returns in the past 10 years. Regeneron is up 20-fold. But nothing can compare with Berkshire Hathaway’s long-term record. Its share price is up 9,000-fold since Warren Buffett, the oldest CEO on our list at 83, took control in 1965.
There’s moderate turnover on our list this year, as eight new CEOs join our pantheon, down from 13 new names last year. The newcomers are ICE’s Sprecher, Facebook’sMark Zuckerberg, Delta Air Lines’ Richard Anderson, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, SoftBank’s Son, Precision Castparts’ Mark Donegan, and two from the hot biotech sector: Gilead’s John Martin and Regeneron’s Leonard Schleifer. Many have been at the helm since their companies went public.
We set a high standard for keeping CEOs on our list. David Novak of Yum! Brands is gone because the company’s profit growth stalled last year amid problems in Yum’s key market: China. José Antonio Fernández Carbajal of Femsa, the Mexican Coca-Cola bottler, is off because of slowing profit growth amid challenging conditions throughout Latin America. Larry Ellison built the second-largest software company behindMicrosoft, but Oracle looks vulnerable to upstarts offering cloud-based software, and its shares are flat in the past year. David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, has been removed due to a modest profit slowdown and a hazier outlook for malls as more Americans do their shopping online.
Our list is international, with 20 CEOs coming from the U.S., six from Europe, and four from Asia. To see profiles of the 30 leaders in alphabetical order, click here.
Enlarge Image
WE USE NO RIGID FORMULA to come up with the list. It reflects the views of Barron’s reporters and editors, taking into account the opinions of investors, analysts, and industry executives. We like to see CEOs on the job for at least five years. It takes time to make a mark on a large company, and developments in the first year or two of a CEO’s tenure may have more to do with a predecessor’s actions than any new initiatives.
A closer look at some of the new additions might suggest what impresses us. Many investors haven’t heard of Precision Castparts, but the $38 billion (market value) company has become a lucrative maker of complex metal components and fasteners that are found in jet engines and other high-intensity aerospace settings. Donegan, a 29-year company veteran, has been described as obsessed with every aspect of the company’s manufacturing process. He does nothing to broadcast his achievements, and declined to talk with Barron’s; indeed, the Portland, Ore., company doesn’t even have a PR department. Investors have recognized Precision Castparts’ strengths, including its 18% net margins, which are among the best in the industrial sector.
Sprecher of ICE built one of the leading commodity and derivative exchanges — capped by its deal last year for NYSE Euronext — in less than 15 years, starting with a small energy exchange, all under the nose of its powerful rival, CME Group . There are few tougher businesses than airlines, and Anderson has turned Delta Air Lines into an industry leader with projected profits of more than $2 billion this year. He has improved service, gained share in the corporate market, dealt well with always-restive unions, bought an oil refinery, and tried to act like a normal company — and not a traditional airline — by returning cash to shareholders. He’s even willing to change Delta’s frequent-flier program by rewarding customers based on what they pay to travel, not miles flown.
MARK ZUCKERBERG has created the dominant social-media company, with over a billion global users. He has shown the same intensity for making money — through a variety of mobile-ad formats — that he did in building the network. The company’s market value is approaching $200 billion following its bold $19 billion recent deal for instant-messaging company WhatsApp. Barron’s wrongly underestimated Zuckerberg and Facebook. Netflix’s Reed Hastings is a disrupter extraordinaire. More than 30 million Americans pay to watch streaming video of their favorite shows, movies, and Netflix’s original programming at a fraction of the cost of cable TV. Hastings, however, still needs to show that Netflix can mine significant profits from the huge subscriber base.
Son, who controls SoftBank, has become Japan’s richest man — with a stake in the company worth more than $20 billion — through shrewd investments like an early-stage purchase of a 37% interest in Alibaba. SoftBank is set to make a killing with Alibaba planning to go public later this year at a market value that could approach $200 billion. Son shook up the Japanese wireless market with his acquisition of Vodafone’s Japanese business and he’s trying to do the same in the U.S. with his purchase of a controlling interest in Sprint — and he may snare T-Mobile US, as well.
Regeneron’s success owes a lot to a single drug, Eylea, which could become the dominant drug for age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly. Eylea sales this year could top $2 billion. Gilead Sciences, which made its mark with antiviral drugs targeting HIV, is riding the successful launch of its breakthrough drug for hepatitis C, Sovaldi, which could hit $4 billion in sales this year.
One of the most controversial CEOs on our list is Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase . Many would argue that Dimon doesn’t deserve accolades, given the series of problems during his eight-year tenure as CEO, including the London Whale trading fiasco in 2012, the Bernie Madoff mess, and some $20 billion of legal settlements last year, most related to mortgage-related activities. Our view is that Dimon deserves to stay because he has built one of the strongest global banking franchises, which could produce $25 billion in after-tax profits this year. Dimon seems as committed as ever to the bank, its employees, and its shareholders, and could be on the job for at least a few more years.
There may be worthy CEOs we have overlooked. And some readers may not agree with some of our selections. If you have any suggestions, please e-mail us We welcome the feedback.

Profiles of the World’s Best CEOs
Profiles of our 30 superstars at Google, CBS, BMW — and more.
Richard Anderson
Delta Air Lines, CEO since 2007
Why: His cost-conscious moves have delivered four years of profits.

Airline stocks were lousy investments for decades, but Anderson, who stepped into Delta’s cockpit just as the carrier was emerging from bankruptcy protection, helped change that perception. By cutting capacity, raising fares and fees, refurbishing used jets instead of buying new ones, and making peace with labor, he has set the course for years of profitability. Indeed, Delta’s earnings soared 75% in 2013. What’s more, the company issued its first dividend in a decade, paying six cents per quarter, as part of its plan to return $1 billion to shareholders over three years.
Anderson, 58, is a risk taker and innovator. Under his leadership, Delta bought a Pennsylvania oil refinery to help reduce fuel costs. The refinery should become profitable this year.
Investors, relax and enjoy the flight.
— Avi Salzman

Bernard Arnault
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, CEO since 1989
Why: This luxury-brand builder is many steps ahead of the crowd.

We toast Arnault — with Moët & Chandon bubbly, natch — for building a luxury-goods juggernaut with $40 billion in annual sales. Arnault, 65, whose family controls 46.5% of Paris-based LVMH, not only turned Louis Vuitton into a perennially red-hot brand, but added lustrous new names such as Bulgari, in jewelry, and Thomas Pink, in shirts, to the company’s status labels.
Alas, sales of spirits and leather goods were flat last year, but the richest man in France isn’t taking this lying down. He’s investing in new designers such as Marco de Vincenzo, and paying more attention to menswear. Last summer, LVMH snapped up cashmere specialist Loro Piana, with a big men’s business. It is also investing in its Berluti men’s shoe brand.
Still on Arnault’s to-do list: Pick an heir to fill his own big Berlutis when he decides to step down.
— Vito J. Racanelli

Jeffrey Bezos, CEO since 1994
Why: Dominates Web retailing with $75 billion in annual sales.

Bezos, 50, is relentless in pursuit of new things to sell. One estimate has offering 230 million different items and expanding its product assortment at a 24% annual clip. The company’s 20%-plus annual revenue growth still delights Wall Street, which gives its chief a pass on profits.
Bezos takes calculated gambles, such as Amazon Web Services, which sells computing as if it were just another retail good. It has the potential to replace traditional enterprise computing, and offers Amazon potential billions in new, higher-margin revenue. “We like to go exploring, to wander into dark alleyways, and see if they open up into broad avenues,” Bezos has said. It remains to be seen if the recent 25% price hike on Amazon’s Prime membership service means he’s finally starting to focus on profit, not just growth.
— Tiernan Ray

Carlos Brito
Anheuser-Busch InBev, CEO since 2005
Why: Built a beer behemoth but stays focused on individual brands.

Brito, 53, transformed a small Brazilian beer company into the world’s largest brewer with bold acquisitions, including America’s Anheuser-Busch in 2008 and Mexico’s Grupo Modelo in 2013. With a market value of $169 billion, Anheuser-Busch InBev is now the No. 4 consumer company in the world.
An exemplar of the “Brazilian” management style that favors sharp cost controls, innovative brand-building, and an informal corporate culture, Brito hates private offices and wears jeans to work. He also likes to nurture in-house talent, which produces employees who are “part of an engaged group of owners, not selfish…professionals looking to build their résumés,” he said in a speech last year.
The beer market lately has been stagnant in North America and Europe. We’re betting on the Brazilian to reinvigorate growth.
— Andrew Bary

Warren Buffett
Berkshire Hathaway, CEO since 1965
Why: He’s a visionary value creator with a one-of-a-kind mind.

At 83, the legendary investor remains at the top of his game. Berkshire Hathaway looks stronger than ever, with shares near a record high, capping a 9,000-fold increase during his tenure.
Buffett continues to fortify Berkshire for the future — and for his as-yet-unnamed successor. The company invested $10 billion last year in the Heinz buyout and keeps searching for an “elephant”-size deal to deploy a chunk of its $42 billion in cash.
Buffett holds few meetings and eats like a kid, with burgers, french fries, and soda on his menu. His favorite beverage: Cherry Coke, made by Coca-Cola, a longtime equity holding.
Berkshire’s next CEO will get to run a company with more than $15 billion of annual earnings power and an impressive portfolio of businesses. Buffett has built a great legacy, and he’s still adding to it.
— A.B.

David Cote
Honeywell International, CEO since 2002
Why: Made Honeywell a global aerospace and industrial leader.

Cote, 61, has piloted Honeywell to highs in sales, earnings, and stock-market value since taking the controls more than a decade ago. The company is a leader in aerospace, building controls, energy-efficiency systems, and turbochargers, and its boss hopes to keep it on top by fending off competition from China. “We spend a lot of time on…being able to beat your local Chinese competitor in Asia,” he says. “If you can’t beat them there, you’ll be facing them in Western Europe and in the U.S.”
Cote’s list of public-service achievements nearly rivals his professional résumé, which includes the top spot at TRW and senior management roles at General Electric. He serves on the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and was elected this month as a director of the New York Federal Reserve, one of six serving on behalf of the public.
— Sandra Ward

Jamie Dimon
JPMorgan Chase, CEO since 2006
Why: A battle-tested leader, he has made the bank even stronger.

Dimon survived an annus horribilis in 2013, as JPMorgan Chase paid $20 billion in legal settlements related to the mortgage meltdown, the Madoff Ponzi scheme, and other problems. Yet, he remains the nation’s top banker, having ably steered the company through the financial crisis while building a formidable organization with leading positions in all four of its largest businesses — investment, commercial, and consumer banking, and asset management.
Dimon, 58, could remain CEO for a while, not least because he feels a strong responsibility to JPMorgan’s 260,000 employees. He avoids the New York social scene, and prefers tennis and running to golf. But his real passion is running the bank, which is well positioned for an eventual rise in interest rates and could deliver $7 a share in earnings in a few years, up from less than $6 now.
— A.B.

Mark Donegan
Precision Castparts, CEO since 2002
Why: Built a money machine from seemingly prosaic parts.

Under Donegan’s watch, this Portland, Ore.-based company has become a giant in aerospace castings, forgings, and fasteners, with a $38 billion market value. Since 2002, sales have quintupled, to nearly $10 billion in this fiscal year, and the shares have gained more than 2,000%.
Donegan, 57, a graduate of Villanova, spent 29 years climbing the management ranks. He devotes 80% of his time to visiting plants and is rumored to know how to run every machine in them. He is keenly focused on costs, and has overseen many acquisitions aimed at producing vertical integration. His next job: expanding the company’s business in the power and energy sectors.
— V.J.R.

Laurence Fink
BlackRock, CEO since 1988
Why: Built the world’s biggest publicly traded asset manager.

Last year was challenging for some money managers, especially those who struggled with bond-fund outflows amid concerns about rising rates.
Not Fink. BlackRock, which he founded in 1988 as an institutional bond manager, had an impressive silver anniversary. Net flows into retail funds totaled nearly $39 billion, including $14.2 billion into bond funds.
Under Fink, 61, BlackRock has become the world’s largest publicly traded asset manager, with $4.3 trillion invested in multiple strategies and asset classes. Fink not only had the smarts to envision such an enterprise, but he also fortified it with the 2009 purchase of iShares, the vaunted ETF franchise. He expects 8% to 9% returns for U.S. stocks this year, and greater volatility because of “more reliance on politics than central-bank behavior.”
— Lawrence C. Strauss

Hugh Grant
Monsanto, CEO since 2003
Why: Bet the farm on genetically modified seeds, and it’s paying off.

Critics revile Monsanto for selling genetically modified seeds, but Grant makes no excuses. Extreme weather and projections for the world’s population to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 put the company on the front lines of fighting starvation, in his opinion. “We will look back whimsically at the fights between big and small farms, organic and agricultural production, and local versus global,” he told Barron’s last year.
Monsanto’s sales have tripled since this Scot, 56, took charge. Now he’s embracing big data, with last year’s purchase of the Climate Corp., which crunches weather data. Farmers who use the software can improve corn yields by 30 to 50 bushels an acre, the company pledges. Grant thinks farm data is a $20 billion industry, and Monsanto could grab a big chunk.
— A.S.

Reed Hastings
Netflix, CEO since 1997
Why: This media visionary redefined Internet TV. His stock merits an Emmy.

After vanquishing the video-rental business, Hastings, 53, raised his ambitions, taking on the television industry itself. “Over the coming decades and across the world, Internet TV will replace linear TV,” reads the Netflix mission statement. Thus far, linear TV has proved resilient, but Hastings isn’t giving up. He has taken Netflix into original programming, making it less reliant on the cable and TV networks for content. House of Cards, one of Netflix’s first shows, received nine Emmy nominations last year — a victory of sorts, though Netflix doesn’t disclose viewership figures.
The CEO is even shaking up Wall Street. Last year, Hastings began hosting live video discussions about quarterly earnings, replacing the traditional conference call. His swagger is paying dividends. Netflix shares soared 298% in 2013, the best performance in the Standard & Poor’s 500.
— Alexander Eule

Nick Hayek
Swatch Group, CEO since 2003
Why: It’s time to celebrate the Swiss watch maker’s growth under Hayek.

Hayek, 59, has built on his father’s legacy as the savior of the Swiss watch industry by increasing production and expanding in fast-growing markets like China. Sales have more than doubled since he took charge in 2003, and net profit margin topped 20% last year. The family controls 41% of the shares.
Hayek has increased Swatch’s impressive array of brands, which includes Omega and Breguet, as well as plastic Swatch watches. Last year, he added some sparkle with the purchase of U.S. jeweler Harry Winston.
A former helicopter pilot and movie producer, Hayek is fond of cigars and known to be prickly. When New York state’s comptroller urged that sponsors of the Winter Olympics in Sochi use their influence to protect human rights in Russia, he told the state’s pension-fund manager to speak out on NSA spying instead.
— Jonathan Buck

Ma Huateng
Tencent, CEO since 1997
Why: Owns China’s market for instant messaging and mobile chat.

Ma isn’t big on visionary speeches, but the company he co-founded speaks for itself, with higher sales than Facebook and more users than Twitter. It also ranks third globally in five-year total stock returns among large tech, media, and telecom firms, according to Boston Consulting Group. After encountering instant messenger ICQ in the U.S., Ma, 42, localized it for Chinese users, creating QQ. The free messaging service, with 800 million users, has become a lucrative launchpad for online gaming, social networking, and other services.
Rivals are encroaching, but Ma, China’s richest man, has stayed ahead of the trend. Tencent is bulking up in e-commerce, and expanding abroad with the mobile chat service WeChat. But controversy comes with the territory; Tencent reportedly deleted 30 popular accounts recently to rein in political discussion.
— Reshma Kapadia

John Martin
Gilead Sciences, CEO since 1996
Why: Built a biotech giant that revolutionized the treatment of AIDS.

Martin, a chemist by training and the son of chemists, has transformed Gilead into one of the world’s biggest biotech companies, with sales up 332 times since 1996, to $11 billion. He put the focus squarely on antivirals, in particular HIV/AIDS treatments. A skilled deal maker as well as a scientist, Martin outbid larger rivals for Triangle Pharmaceuticals, which gave Gilead the ingredients to make Atripla, a once-a-day, three-in-one pill that became its biggest seller and revolutionized the treatment of HIV, turning it into a chronic disease.
As rivals encroach, Martin, 62, has pushed into areas such as hepatitis C, striking another gutsy deal for the early-stage biotech Pharmasset. That led to the recent launch of Sovaldi, a breakthrough drug that can cure many patients. The next challenge: bringing down the price of this $1,000 pill.
— R.K.

Carol Meyrowitz
TJX Cos., CEO since 2007
Why: She understands off-price retailing better than anyone.

Meyrowitz joined TJX predecessor Zayre in 1983, after a stint as an assistant buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue. Today, she runs the nation’s largest off-price retailer, with more than 3,200 apparel and home-goods stores operating under T.J.Maxx, HomeGoods, Marshalls, and other names in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Sales have risen nearly 60%, to $27 billion, during her tenure. She sees TJX becoming at least a $40 billion company.
Europe, which generated 15% of sales in fiscal 2014, is a key to future growth. TJX is the only major bricks-and-mortar off-price retailer on the Continent, where Meyrowitz, 60, aims to open 875 stores, more than doubling the current count. TJX has an active share-buyback program and intends to raise its dividend, now 58 cents, which would make it 18 years in a row.
— Christopher C. Williams

Leslie Moonves
CBS, CEO since 2006
Why: Leading the revival of network television.

As the Internet threatens to disrupt his industry, Moonves has only gotten bolder about the power of network television. Last month, CBS agreed to pay at least $250 million for a new slate of NFL games on Thursday nights, on top of the network’s existing $1 billion annual package with the league. “We are offering the most valuable content in town,” he told an investor conference this month.
Distributors, in turn, are paying up. Last summer, Time Warner Cable and CBS fought a high-stakes battle over fees. Moonves, 64, eventually won, reportedly forcing the cable operator to more than double its payments to the network. Moonves now projects CBS will generate $2 billion by 2020 in retransmission fees from distributors. A few years ago, that revenue stream didn’t even exist.
— A.E.

Alan Mulally
Ford Motor, CEO since 2006
Why: Resuscitated Ford and revved its growth engines.

Ford was heading toward a bankruptcy filing in 2008. Last year, it celebrated its best pretax profit in a decade. Credit for executing this turn goes to Mulally, 68, who sees even higher earnings in 2015.
This year could be “challenging,” but for good cause: Ford plans to launch 23 new car and light-truck models, including the aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup, which could deliver “class-leading” fuel economy. And not a minute too soon: F-series sales were flat in January, while sales of Chrysler Ram trucks, which get 28 miles per gallon, rose 22%. Mulally also is making big bets on China and the 2015 Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicle.
Mulally was under consideration last year to lead Microsoft. This might be his last year at Ford. When he retires, his track record for profits and dividends will cement his place in Ford’s history.
— V.J.R.

Michael O’Leary
Ryanair Holdings, CEO since 1994
Why: He built Europe’s largest airline, and makes no excuse for no frills.

A former accountant, O’Leary transformed a small, money-losing business into Europe’s biggest airline, carrying 80 million passengers a year. His formula: no-frills service at a rock-bottom price. He is fanatical about driving down costs, and clashes frequently — and publicly — with regulators and others perceived to be standing in his way. With such an outspoken leader, it’s no wonder Ryanair spends next to nothing on advertising and marketing.
O’Leary, 53, has had to adapt Ryanair’s approach in the past year. The Irish carrier, which has about 300 planes and another 175 on order, is relaxing some charges and fees, and offering allocated seating, copying successful rivals. That could help keep revenue and profits, both up 13% last year, growing smartly in the years ahead.

Larry Page
Google, CEO since 2011
Why: He invented the future once, and hopes to do it again and again.

Page, who turned 40 last year, has final say over everything at Google, and he has used that power to pursue some of the most surprising efforts in tech, driven by a personal conviction that “we should be building things that don’t exist.” Sometimes his gambles have failed, such as the $12 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition; the company is being sold at a deep loss. But Page gets kudos for cutting bait and redirecting the ship, fast.
Even as he has nurtured pursuits such as driverless cars and seeded new businesses like Google Glass interactive eyewear, Page has kept Google the undisputed leader in search. With ad revenue and profit growing by double digits, the stock hurdled $1,000 last fall, and has kept going. Now, Page has hit upon what could be the company’s next giant business: cloud computing for a fee.
— T.R.

Norbert Reithofer
BMW, CEO since 2006
Why: This innovator is developing the ultimate electric driving machine.

Reithofer, 57, operates in the present but plans for the future. Hence BMW, the global leader in premium vehicles, also is becoming a force in electric cars. Last year it introduced the $42,000 i3 battery-powered sedan, its first mass-produced electric car, with a carbon-fiber body. Coming next: the sporty i8 hybrid two-seater.
The CEO is adept at juggling demands from ever-tighter emission standards, higher R&D spending, and intensifying competition in the luxury segment, particularly in China. Still, BMW’s legendary cost flexibility has helped it stick to its targeted operating profit margin of 8% to 10%.
Reithofer has deftly guided the Munich-based auto maker through volatile times, delivering rising profits, dividends, and shares. Fortunately, this equable Bavarian engineer loves a challenge.
— V.J.R.

Leonard Schleifer
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, CEO since 1988
Why: This biotech visionary’s perseverance finally paid off.

Approved in 2011, Regeneron’s Eylea, a treatment for macular degeneration, has become one of the fastest-growing drugs in biotechnology history, with U.S. sales of $1.4 billion last year. For Schleifer, 61, an M.D. and Ph.D. who founded the company 26 years ago, its success is sweet vindication. There were many lean years in which the company was brutalized for failed efforts to treat ALS and obesity. But today, it has three drugs on the market and 14 compounds in the pipeline.
Schleifer was dogged, audacious, and a shrewd deal maker. Partnerships with Sanofi and other big drug concerns have enabled Regeneron to fund research and development without resorting to dilutive stock offerings. After nearly a decade of losses, profits are adding up. Regeneron netted $424 million, or $3.81 a share, last year, on revenue of $2.1 billion.
— Johanna Bennett

Howard Schultz
Starbucks, CEO since 1985
Why: He realized a grande ambition, using coffee to change the culture.

Schultz somehow knew, back in 1985, that we’d pay up if he turned an ordinary cup of joe into a Venti latte. He also hoped his cool coffee cafes would change the culture, as they have in cities and suburbs alike. Roughly 30 years later, 20,000 Starbucks stores circle the globe, generating $15 billion in annual revenue.
Now the boy from Brooklyn is pushing into tea, baked goods, and digital commerce with Starbucks’ $25 million equity stake in Square, a mobile-payments start-up. Following a record year and quarter, and with the stock near an all-time high, Schultz, 60, is turning his focus to “Starbucks’ mission, growth initiatives, and the convergence and integration of our retail and e-commerce, digital, card, and mobile assets around the world.” Better grab a latte, and stay tuned.
— Jacqueline Doherty

Fred Smith
FedEx, CEO since 1971
Why: He has delivered over decades for customers and shareholders.

Smith, a logistics whiz, founded FedEx in his 20s, and built it into a global powerhouse in package-delivery services. FedEx has always been shareholder-friendly, and it shows in the stock’s stellar performance since its 1978 initial public offering. Last year, FedEx went a step further; its board authorized the repurchase of up to a little more than 10% of the shares. “We felt the shares were undervalued,” says Smith.
To attract customers and fight off increasing competition, FedEx continues to invest in its business. Last year’s $3.4 billion in capital spending included outlays for air-fleet modernization to make the air business leaner and more profitable. “The minute you aren’t able to adapt and change, you are probably on the way to liquidation,” says Smith, 69, a seasoned aviator and CEO who still relishes being in the cockpit.
— L.C.S.

Masayoshi Son
SoftBank, CEO since 1981

If Japan has become more entrepreneurial in the past 30 years, it’s because of people like Son. SoftBank, the Japanese broadband and Internet investor he founded, bought a majority stake in Sprint last year. Now it is thought to be pursuing T-Mobile U.S., with the aim of combining it with Sprint.
The son of a former pig farmer, Son, 56, is a third-generation ethnic Korean, a group much discriminated against in Japan. He left Japan at 16, went to school in the U.S., and launched SoftBank as a software distributor. It eventually began investing in Internet companies, but the stock was clobbered when the dot-com bubble burst. Son then started selling broadband access, winning customers with low prices. Now SoftBank stands to profit from its big stake in China’s Alibaba, the most anticipated initial public offering of 2014. Japan’s richest man, Son owns 19.3% of SoftBank.
— Leslie P. Norton

Lars Rebien Sørensen
Novo Nordisk, CEO since 2000
Why: Made the Danish drug maker No. 1 worldwide in diabetes care.

Sørensen, 59, has transformed the Danish drug maker into the world’s largest diabetes-care company, with a 27% market share. Under his guidance, Novo Nordisk abandoned research in small molecules and synthetic medicines to focus on protein-based treatments. With the success of products like NovoRapid, a fast-acting insulin for use at mealtimes that is marketed in the U.S. as NovoLog, the company has garnered 48% of the insulin market. Its U.S. sales have more than doubled since 2008.
Now Sørensen is trying to reduce Novo’s reliance on diabetes care by steering the company into bio-pharmaceutical treatments for obesity and hemophilia. The boss likes to garden and cross-country ski, and is an avid biker. He pedals to the office and participates in charity rides, including some that raise money for diabetes research.
— J.B.

Jeffrey Sprecher
IntercontinentalExchange Group, CEO since 2000
Why: Built a global exchange network from scratch; owns the NYSE.

Many people grow wealthy on Wall Street, but Sprecher, 59, also bought up some of the Street’s most critical and iconic institutions in the process, including the New York Stock Exchange. After 14 years of deal-making, he has become the king of the global exchange industry, running a company that operates 24 regulated exchanges and markets and six clearing firms on four continents. ICE lists more than 9,700 traded contracts and securities in all major asset classes, and is a leader in trading U.S. stocks and equity derivatives, oil, and many other commodities. Its own stock trades like a winner.
Sprecher’s challenge now is to consolidate his acquisitions, showing investors how they can reduce risk, lower costs, and increase returns by bringing all of their business to ICE. In his free time, assuming he has any, he can play with his Porsche collection.
— Steven M. Sears

Miles White
Abbott Laboratories, CEO since 1999
Why: An industry pacesetter in product development and growth.

In 15 years as CEO, White has become one of the most effective leaders in the health-care industry. Helped by smart acquisitions, Abbott developed a leading position in drug-coated cardiac stents — and one of the industry’s top-selling drugs, Humira, for rheumatoid arthritis.
White wisely split the company in 2012; the newly created AbbVie holds branded drugs like Humira, while Abbott’s broad portfolio includes nutritional products, diagnostic tests, medical devices, and branded generic drugs sold mainly in the developing world. The separation has played well on Wall Street, with the companies returning a combined 84% since the deal was announced in October 2011.
White, 59, is active on the Chicago cultural scene as a board member of the Lyric Opera and the Field Museum of Natural History.
— A.B.

Tadashi Yanai
Fast Retailing, CEO since 1984
Why: Fast is a cross-border style setter with fashionable financials.

Yanai, 65, likes to say he was “brainwashed by American culture.” His house in Japan has a miniature golf range, and his Fast Retailing empire sells the sort of brightly colored sportswear that plays well in the U.S., where the company operates 17 of its 1,300 Uniqlo stores. Most are in Japan and Asia, but Yanai has big plans. He wants Fast, which also owns the tonier Theory and Helmut Lang labels, to become the world’s No. 1 apparel retailer, with annual sales of $48 billion by 2020, up from $12.6 billion now. It currently is No. 4, behind Inditex’s Zara, H&M, and Gap.
The son of a menswear merchant, Yanai is a huge admirer of Mickey Drexler, head of J. Crew. Yanai recently approached J. Crew’s private-equity owners about buying the U.S. sportswear chain, but talks reportedly have broken down. For now.
— L.P.N.

Yang Yuanqing
Lenovo, CEO since 2009
Why: Made Lenovo the world’s biggest PC company. Next stop: mobile.
Enlarge Image

It’s only March, and already Yang, 49, has dominated the headlines in tech. After steering Lenovo to become the world’s largest PC maker last year, with sales of $37.2 billion, he bought IBM’s low-end server division, followed by Google’s Motorola handset business. Not content to keep gaining share at the expense of former PC leaders, he now aims to challenge Apple and Samsung Electronics in mobile devices, a strategy he calls PC-plus. Lenovo pushes hard on costs, boasting a strong supply chain and deft inventory management. Yang thinks he can make money-losing Motorola profitable in the next 18 months.
Yang began learning English after Lenovo bought IBM’s PC division, which put the company on the map. Today, English is its official language, and Yang is the steward of China’s first truly global brand.
— L.P.N.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook, CEO since 2004
Why: Facebook is his baby, and he nurtures it with enormous care.

At the tender age of 29, Zuckerberg is one of the youngest multibillionaires in the world, and certainly the youngest to have negotiated a $19 billion acquisition over a friendly chat, as he did with the purchase of messaging start-up WhatsApp, announced in February.
To drop tons of money in a seemingly off-the-cuff manner is in line with his view of “making money to build better services,” not the other way around. Relentless about the shape and direction of Facebook, he uses the company’s capital to shelter fledgling businesses as they build dominant market positions, before demanding they become profitable.
WhatsApp is Zuckerberg’s way of keeping Facebook relevant, as some data show traffic slipping among younger users. Still, there’s a lot to “like” about this social-media leader.
— T.R.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: