World’s Best CEOs

Our annual listing of the top 30 corporate chieftains includes a dozen new names from a wide range of industries. How each one has mastered the job -- and what they see ahead.
Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett

Our annual listing of the top 30 corporate chieftains includes a dozen new names from a wide range of industries. How each one has mastered the job -- and what they see ahead.

As Warren Buffett sees it, the best CEOs always think like business owners. What he means is that great leaders combine passion, commitment, creativity, and an entrepreneurial drive. That mix isn’t easy to find, but Buffett definitely is onto something. So, as Barron’s drew up its annual list of the 30 best CEOs around the world, we looked hard for ownership mentalities.

Buffett certainly has one. Berkshire Hathaway is his baby, with Buffett having created $200 billion in market value from a floundering business purchased in 1965. Buffett is working because he loves the job, and so are other wealthy founder/CEOs like Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and FedEx’s Fred Smith – men who could easily have followed the lead of Microsoft’s former CEO Bill Gates and gone into philanthropy full time.

Our list includes a mix of familiar names, like JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, as well as some deserving but lesser-known leaders like Priceline.com’s Jeffrey Boyd, Perrigo’s Joseph Papa, and Hyflux’s Olivia Lum, who heads a high-growth Singapore company with a strong position in water-treatment technology. There’s more turnover on this year’s list than usual, with 12 new CEOs joining our pantheon. Besides Papa, Boyd, and Lum, the newcomers include Coach’s Lew Frankfort, Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, TD Bank’s Ed Clark, and Intel’s Paul Otellini. Some of the departing CEOs left as a result of retirement, including Cummins’ Tim Solso and IBM’s Sam Palmisano. And Apple’s Steve Jobs died in October.

 

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