10 Global 500 CEO strangers in strange lands

Jul 08, 2013

Indra Nooyi - PepsiCo

Company headquarters: U.S.

CEO's home country: India

Indra Nooyi was born and educated in Chennai, India, received an MBA at the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta, and made her way to Yale to earn yet another MBA, which she completed in 1980.

After stints at Boston Consulting Group and Motorola, Nooyi joined PepsiCo's (pep) strategy and development team as an SVP in 1994. She moved her way up the ranks at the company and was named CEO in October 2006. PepsiCo has made major investments in India, China, and Russia. In 2011, PepsiCo acquired Russian yogurt company Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods for $4.2 billion, giving it a major opening into the Eastern European market.

Nooyi has also focused on bolstering PepsiCo's nutritional reputation abroad. "I grew up in an emerging market, and I cannot forget that," Nooyi told Fortune in 2004, when she was CFO of the company. "I have a basic belief that positive nutrition is important in developing markets."

Muhtar Kent - Coca-Cola

Company headquarters: U.S.

CEO's home country: Turkey

Kent is a born globetrotter. His father was a Turkish diplomat and he traveled all over the world with his family as a child. He was born in New York City, educated in Turkey and the UK, and eventually made his way to Atlanta to work at Coca-Cola (ko). Kent put his international roots to good use, overseeing Coke's operations in Central Asia and Eastern Europe at different points in his career at the company.

Coke is available in just about every country in the world, and under Kent's leadership, Coca-Cola has seen growth in markets like Thailand, India, and Russia.

Kent has also been a major advocate for immigration reform in the United States. "We are a country of immigrants ... half of the Fortune 500 companies were set up by immigrants," Kent said in a recent interview with Foreign Affairs.

Carlos Brito - Anheuser-Busch InBev

Company headquarters: Belgium

CEO's home country: Brazil

Carlos Brito found himself at the helm of beverage giant Anheuser-Busch-InBev after the 2008 merger between Brazilian-Belgiian InBev and American beer giant Anheuser-Busch. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brito started his beverage career at Brazilian brewer Brahma in 1989 after finishing business school at Stanford.

With over 200 different beers in its portfolio and significant market share in the U.S., Brazil, China, and Russia, AB-InBev is a truly global company. Since taking the reins at the merged company, Brito has focused on cutting costs and increasing prices, to the dismay of consumers but the delight of shareholders. AB-InBev (bud) shares are up by 11.8% since last year.

Joseph Jimenez - Novartis

Company headquarters: Switzerland

CEO's home country: U.S.

Jimenez is quite familiar with both sides of the Atlantic. He was educated in the U.S. at Stanford and UC Berkeley and held positions at Heinz Europe, AstraZeneca in the U.K., and Blackstone in the U.S. before heading to Novartis in 2007. While his career has focused quite a bit on European operations, Jimenez recently told Fortune that Novartis (nvs) has its eyes on emerging markets, including China, Russia, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Carlos Ghosn - Nissan

Company headquarters: Japan

CEO's home country: Brazil

Born in Brazil into a Lebanese family, educated at prestigious schools in France, and currently at the helm of French car company Renault and Japanese auto maker Nissan, Carlos Ghosn has been described by CNN as the "quintessential international businessman." He held executive positions at Michelin in France, Brazil, and the U.S. before moving to Renault and Nissan. Ghosn is also fluent in French, Arabic, English, and Portuguese.

Hubert Joly - Best Buy

Company headquarters: U.S.

CEO's home country: France

Joly was educated in France and has held several executive positions in Europe and North America. No stranger to the road, the Best Buy (bby) CEO worked as a consultant at McKinsey and Co. for 12 years before moving to tech company Electronic Data Systems.

Sidney Toledano - Dior

Company headquarters: France

CEO's home country: Morocco

The fashion executive was born in Casablanca, Morocco and educated at Ecole Centrale in Paris, where he studied engineering. As CEO at Dior, Toledano has focused on giving the brand an increasingly international footprint, expanding the number of fashion outlets across the world and taking advantage of growing demand for luxury goods in Asia.

Stephen Elop - Nokia

Company headquarters: Finland

CEO's home country: Canada

Elop holds the distinction of being the first Nokia (nok) CEO who was not born in Finland. Elop took the reins at Nokia in September 2010, a tumultuous time for the mobile phone giant as it lost smartphone market share to Apple's (aapl) iPhone and a variety of Android-powered phones. The Canadian-born and educated Elop has shifted gears at Nokia, winding down the company's in-house Symbian mobile operating system and establishing a partnership with his alma mater company, Microsof (msft)t, to power Nokia phones with the Windows Phone operating system. So far, the results have been less than stellar, with smartphone and traditional handset revenues on the decline over the past few years.

Anshu Jain - Deutsche Bank

Company headquarters: Germany

CEO's home country: India

London-based Jain was born in Jaipur, India and educated in India and the U.S. He launched his banking career in the U.S. at Kidder Peabody, eventually moving on to Merrill Lynch and then Deutsche Bank (db). In many ways, Jain is representative of the profound shift Deutsche Bank has undergone over the years, from a primarily German financial institution to one that is truly global in nature. Over the past 20 years, Deutsche Bank's revenues went from primarily Germany-based to international, and its staff is now mostly based outside the company's home country.

Karl Slym - Tata Motors

Company headquarters: India

CEO's home country: U.K.

Slym took over as managing director at Tata Motors (ttm) in 2012. The U.K. native is a citizen of today's global automotive world. After finishing college in England, he began his career at Toyota (tm) U.K., and then held a variety of positions with GM (gm) in Poland, Canada, China, and India, before moving to Tata. As the nascent Indian car market continues to mature in fits and starts (India-based net revenues the first nine months of fiscal 2013 were down by 10%), Tata will likely need to lean on the expertise of auto execs like Slym, who have seen the market from a variety of geographical angles.

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