For months we’ve been following leaders at the center of major news stories – for example, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller, Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter, and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. We’ll keep an eye on them, but maybe you noticed that they’re all dealing with trouble – not the most mood-enhancing topic. We need a break. So today we look at four CEOs who are performing terrifically, as evidenced by their standing on Fortune’s just-published ranking of Blue Ribbon companies. These are outfits that have made it onto four of more Fortune rankings – not just the Fortune 500, but also the World’s Most Admired Companies, the 100 Best Companies to Work For, or others. The elite Blue Ribbon group includes high-profile glamour companies like Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, and Starbucks. But we’re looking past those, at CEOs who are mostly unheralded.
-Cisco Systems CEO Chuck Robbins in July took over from 20-year CEO John Chambers – a tough act to follow – and so far looks as if he’ll keep building the company’s strengths. It’s on our list of the 100 Best Companies to Work for and gets about 100 applicants for each job not filled internally. Robbins is changing Cisco’s business model. There’s no saying how well he’ll succeed, but he’s tackling a job that too many CEOs are avoiding.
-MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga is famous in the world of payments but not outside it. Yet he’s leading this big, old incumbent company to record-setting performance as technology threatens to disrupt the whole industry. He has doubled revenue and profits in the past five years while investing aggressively in technology. He’s also pushing hard to win a vast pool of potential customers: the 85% of the world’s people who still pay for everything with cash. The stock is up 40% in the past two years.
-As CEO of Accenture, Pierre Nanterme is transforming the vast consulting firm for the digital age. My colleague Alan Murray described his impressive progress in yesterday’s CEO Daily newsletter. Accenture is also on our 100 Best Companies to Work For ranking, in part because Nanterme is making the typical consultant’s punishing work life a bit more humane through more flexible hours. It’s a smart move in an industry where winning the war for talent is just about the whole game.
-Everybody knows Wal-Mart is America’s biggest retailer, but few know that Costco is No. 2 – and even fewer know that Craig Jelinek has been CEO for nearly four years. Following the legendary Jim Sinegal isn’t easy, but Jelinek has kept revenue and profits growing at the huge company. Customers and employees are extraordinarily loyal. The business people we survey for our ranking of the World’s Most Admired Companies say Costco is the No. 1 specialty retailer by a mile.
How many of these four leaders did you know about? Bad performance makes news. Sometimes excellent performance has to be sought out.
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What We're Reading Today
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California issues rules for self-driving cars…
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The European Union’s anti-fraud agency is investigating whether loans obtained by VW from EU’s member bank for “improving environmental performance” were used for their stated purposes. While the investigation hasn’t reached any conclusions, it’s a new problem stemming from the emissions scandal that CEO Matthias Müller is struggling to contain.
Up or Out
Former Intel president Renée James has joined the Oracle board of directors.
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