Photo: Brian Henn
Spot the trend in these corporate internal slogans, the kind meant for employees: “One Ford.” “One Deloitte.” “One Microsoft.” Those companies and many more see a giant opportunity to create world-beating customer experiences — if only their disparate parts can work better together. The slogans signal a shift toward valuing teamwork more than ever; that’s why Fortune’s editors have assembled our third annual Executive Dream Team. Our starting lineup is a Murderers’ Row of standout performers, and each is also a team player, working for the success of the whole enterprise, not just his part of it. A particular challenge for many companies now is making the top team as global as the business is. “Think about the message companies send to their talent pool by consistently selecting native leaders at the top,” says Pankaj Ghemawat of IESE Business School, who finds that only 14% of companies on the Fortune Global 500 are headed by non-native CEOs. Our squad includes a Chinese entrepreneur, a British marketer, and a Brazilian CEO. True team building, as distinct from just hiring excellent performers, is an ability most managers lack. So if you don’t like our Dream Team, that’s great — create your own, and figure out why it’s better. You’ll build skills that the world increasingly prizes. –Geoff Colvin
Nonexecutive chairman: Sam Palmisano
Ex-chairman and CEO, IBM Though he’s never been a nonexec chair, Palmisano’s ideal for the job. He chaired IBM’s (IBM) board of directors for nine years, and spent several years as one of former CEO Lou Gerstner’s deputies, proving he can work alongside demanding chiefs. He has a killer Rolodex (a huge asset to any board), but he’s also shown he can be neutral: Bloomberg LP recently tapped him to conduct an independent review of its privacy standards.
CEO: Carlos Brito
Chief executive officer, AB InBev Brito is a master of M&A; he’s built a $40 billion-a-year-in-revenue global beer powerhouse by gobbling up the likes of Anheuser-Busch and Grupo Modelo. He isn’t just setting strategy; he’s a hands-on executive — see “(Brew) Master of the Universe” — obsessed with making AB InBev (BUD) more efficient. And he is truly global: A New York-based Brazil native, Brito runs a company whose headquarters are in Belgium.
COO: Rosalind Brewer
Chief executive officer, Sam’s Club Brewer is a rare breed, an executive running a big company who also happens to have a boss, Wal-Mart (WMT) CEO Mike Duke. (Sam’s Club is a unit of the world’s largest retailer.) Brewer’s trusted relationship with Duke (they have one-on-one sessions at least every two weeks) is the hallmark of a COO. So is her operating prowess: Sam’s Club last year posted revenue of $56.4 billion (it’d be No. 53 on the Fortune 500 if it were a standalone company).
–Stephanie N. Mehta
CFO: Byron Pollitt
Chief financial officer, Visa Our dream team calls for managers who can size up any business, and Pollitt’s diverse résumé — before joining Vi (V)sa he’d been finance chief at Disney’s theme-park unit and at retailer Gap during its turnaround — shows such flexibility. And he has financial chops too. He helped merge six companies to create Visa Inc., then led the company’s 2008 IPO, which raised a then-record $20 billion. In the last year the stock is up 40%, vs. 20% for the S&P 500
CMO: Keith Weed
Chief marketing officer, Unilever Weed, an engineer by training, controls an $8 billion global budget to market a vast portfolio that includes Dove beauty products, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and 400 other Unilever (UL) brands. CEO Paul Polman has made sustainability a top priority for the consumer giant, and infusing soaps and scoops with feel-good branding falls to Weed: The Brit is the first Unilever CMO to sit on its executive committee.
CIO: Karenann Terrell
Chief information officer, Wal-Mart Stores Running Wal-Mart’s world-class information technology department would be enough to earn Terrell a spot on the Dream Team; she’s cementing her team-player status by working closely with her e-commerce counterparts to help Wal-Mart compete with the likes of Amazon. Other CIOs talk about harnessing “big data”; Terrell’s task is gargantuan: Wal-Mart’s stores process up to 5,000 transactions per second.
Entrepreneur in residence: Pony Ma
Founder, Tencent Entrepreneur in residence isn’t a real job at most corporations, but with companies increasingly seeking to inject their businesses with a founder’s zeal, perhaps it should be. Ma, who founded Internet portal Tencent in 1998 and has grown it into an influential investment holding company, brings digital know-how and an intimate understanding of the coveted Chinese youth market.
Utility player: Lloyd Dean
Chief executive officer, Dignity Health Dean is the quintessential utility player. He knows how to operate a business (he led a financial turnaround of nonprofit Dignity), and he’s a master at working a room. Dean is nonpareil as a networker, diplomat, and charmer. In a town of techies Dean is proof that you can be influential even if you don’t write code. That’s why he’s mentioned as a possible Obama cabinet member down the road. Or as a future mayor of San Francisco.
–David A. Kaplan
Designer: David Butler
Vice president, innovation, Coca-Cola As Coke’s (KO) first in-house VP of global design, Butler led the design of the “Freestyle” machine, which lets consumers mix and match 100-plus Coca-Cola brand sodas; he also brought a fresh design perspective to the company’s packaging and presentation. Now, as the soda maker’s first VP of innovation, Butler aims to develop programs and relationships that make the company more inventive, a skill any executive team — and company — would value.