Meet the Globetrotter, the Ramen Rebel, the Sofa Surfer, and others in a selection of the most influential young people in business.

By Leigh Gallagher and Daniel Roberts
October 11, 2012

Globetrotter

Globetrotter Dolf van den Brink Age: 39 President and CEO, Heineken U.S. 40 Under 40 rank: 8 The Dutch-born, 14-year Heineken veteran has given his life to the company. In return, the job has taken him around the world. After stints in St. Maarten, the Netherlands, and the Congo -- where the second of his two daughters was born -- van den Brink took the job as U.S. CEO and settled in suburban Rye, N.Y. It's a change from the exotic locales of his corporate past, but the family man still spends as much time as he can outdoors. He favors sunset sails (shown here in New York Harbor), skiing, and wakeboarding. Indoors, he likes to watch Chinese wuxia martial arts movies. "Take time to master your discipline," he says. "Take the nitty-gritty jobs early in your professional life. You will benefit." --Daniel Roberts
Photo: Peter Yang

Dolf van den Brink

Age: 39
President and CEO, Heineken U.S.

40 Under 40 rank: 8

The Dutch-born, 14-year Heineken veteran has given his life to the company. In return, the job has taken him around the world. After stints in St. Maarten, the Netherlands, and the Congo — where the second of his two daughters was born — van den Brink took the job as U.S. CEO and settled in suburban Rye, N.Y. It’s a change from the exotic locales of his corporate past, but the family man still spends as much time as he can outdoors. He favors sunset sails (shown here in New York Harbor), skiing, and wakeboarding. Indoors, he likes to watch Chinese wuxia martial arts movies. “Take time to master your discipline,” he says. “Take the nitty-gritty jobs early in your professional life. You will benefit.”

–Daniel Roberts


Geek chic

Polyvore CEO Jess Lee, photographed in 2012 for Fortune's 40 Under 40 list.
Photo: Peter Yang

Jess Lee

Age: 30
Co-founder and CEO, Polyvore

40 Under 40 rank: 32

When the Hong Kong native started her career at Google in 2004, her mentor, Marissa Mayer, taught her to “always take the more challenging path.” Lee heeded that advice four years later when she decided to leave to join the fledgling fashion website Polyvore. Lee was uniquely qualified for the job, with her computer science background, love of fashion (she was already a Polyvore addict), and quirky creative side (she loves Japanese manga comic books and hopes to write a graphic novel). Lee moved into the CEO spot this year — and the company added “cofounder” to her title — but her eccentric side still comes through. While being photographed in Marin Headlands, Calif., she spontaneously chose to climb a tree. “Was that creepy?” she asked after she climbed down. “Whatever. I like creepy.”

–D.R.


Ramen rebel

Ramen rebel: David Chang, founder and chef of Momofuku Restaurant Group, fly-fishing on the Snake River in eastern Idaho.
Photo: Peter Yang for Fortune

David Chang

Age: 35
Founder and chef, Momofuku Restaurant Group

40 Under 40 rank: 31

His fusion of French and Asian cuisines has led chefs to imitate his pork buns the world over, while his bad-boy persona has earned him friends and enemies alike. Even iconoclasts need a break, though, and when it comes time for his, Chang flees to the wilderness. A novice angler since he was 21 (before that he was a competitive golfer), he takes one big fly-fishing trip out West each year. In September, just as the first of his three ambitious new restaurants in Toronto was opening, he hit the Snake River in eastern Idaho. “On the river I don’t think about work,” he says. “I can only think about fishing. That’s what I love about it.”

–D.R.


Sky captain

Sky captain Aditya Ghosh Age: 37 President, Indigo 40 Under 40 rank: 27 Ghosh knew nothing about the airline business when he took a job as general counsel for Indigo, then a fledgling low-cost airline in India, at age 28. But he impressed the airline's founders, who four years later gave him the top job. The Delhi native now heads the fastest-growing airline in the world's fastest-growing aviation market. The potential is huge, but Ghosh believes in pacing. And slowing down when it counts: He still finds time to take his 5-year-old son rock climbing on Sundays and to get his 4-year-old daughter dressed for school every morning. Here, Ghosh entertains Avantika (center) and Arunanshu (right) at Delhi's Bengali market. --Omar Akhtar
Photo: Peter Yang

Aditya Ghosh

Age: 37
President, Indigo

40 Under 40 rank: 27

Ghosh knew nothing about the airline business when he took a job as general counsel for Indigo, then a fledgling low-cost airline in India, at age 28. But he impressed the airline’s founders, who four years later gave him the top job. The Delhi native now heads the fastest-growing airline in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market. The potential is huge, but Ghosh believes in pacing. And slowing down when it counts: He still finds time to take his 5-year-old son rock climbing on Sundays and to get his 4-year-old daughter dressed for school every morning. Here, Ghosh entertains Avantika (center) and Arunanshu (right) at Delhi’s Bengali market.

–Omar Akhtar


Sofa surfer

Sofa surfer Brian Chesky Age: 31 Co-founder and CEO, Airbnb 40 Under 40 rank: 17 Soon after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Chesky moved to San Francisco to be a designer -- but a billion-dollar idea intervened. A Valley neophyte at the time ("Someone was talking about angels, and I was like, 'Oh, my God, I don't believe in angels -- these people are totally crazy,' " Chesky told Fortune), he's now the ultimate insider, taking meetings with the likes of Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos. He still sketches from time to time, as he's doing here at Brainwash, the café he and his co-founders, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk, "camped out in all day" when they were starting Airbnb. "In hindsight those days are nostalgic and romantic," he says. "But at the time it wasn't at all. It was actually very scary." --Leigh Gallagher
Photo: Peter Yang

Brian Chesky

Age: 31
Co-founder and CEO, Airbnb

40 Under 40 rank: 17

Soon after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Chesky moved to San Francisco to be a designer — but a billion-dollar idea intervened. A Valley neophyte at the time (“Someone was talking about angels, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t believe in angels — these people are totally crazy,’ ” Chesky told Fortune), he’s now the ultimate insider, taking meetings with the likes of Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos. He still sketches from time to time, as he’s doing here at Brainwash, the café he and his co-founders, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk, “camped out in all day” when they were starting Airbnb. “In hindsight those days are nostalgic and romantic,” he says. “But at the time it wasn’t at all. It was actually very scary.”

–Leigh Gallagher

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