Businessperson of the Year

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How does one choose a Businessperson of the Year? We think you have to start with the basics: Is the top dog delivering results? To answer that question, Fortune’s data guru, Scott DeCarlo, constructed an exacting screen. It parses and ranks companies by 12- and 36-month increases in profits, revenues, and stock performance, and factors in return on capital and debt. (We give the 12-month results more weight to capture who’s killing it today but also include the 36-month figures to eliminate those who had one lucky year.) Then, of course, come the intangibles: Is the CEO influencing business? Taking bold, visionary steps? The list that follows reveal star executives with wildly varying styles and approaches, but one thing in common: They deliver, big-time. By: Scott Cendrowski, Geoff Colvin, Laura Entis, Adam Lashinsky, Clifton Leaf, Michal Lev-Ram, Leena Rao, Jonathan Vanian, Nicholas Varchaver, Phil Wahba, and Jen Wieczner

1 Mark Zuckerberg CEO Facebook
2 Jeff Bezos CEO Amazon
3 Mary Dillon CEO Ulta Beauty
4 Larry Page CEO Alphabet
5 Satya Nadella CEO Microsoft
6 Brad Smith CEO Intuit
7 Jen Hsun Huang CEO Nvidia
8 Cheng Wei CEO Didi Chuxing
9 Rodney Sacks CEO Monster Beverage
10 Jack Ma Executive Chairman Alibaba
11 Tim Cook CEO Apple
12 Mary Barra CEO General Motors
13 Reed Hastings CEO Netflix
14 Delos “Toby” Cosgrove CEO Cleveland Clinic
15 Travis Kalanick CEO Uber
16 Wang Jianlin Chairman Dalian Wanda Group
17 Barbara Rentler CEO Ross Stores
18 Pony Ma CEO TenCent
19 Larry Fink CEO BlackRock
20 Oscar Munoz CEO United Continental
21 Robert Martin CEO Thor Industries
22 Robert Iger CEO Disney
23 Andrew Wilson CEO Electronic Arts
24 Mark Parker CEO Nike
25 Walter Bettinger CEO Charles Schwab
26 Pablo Isla CEO Inditex
27 Susan Cameron CEO Reynolds American
28 Anders Runevad CEO Vestas Wind Systems
29 Howard Schultz CEO Starbucks
30 Guibin Zhao CEO Nexteer Automotive
31 Phebe Novakovic CEO General Dynamics
32 Mark Dunkerly CEO Hawaiian Airlines
33 Margaret Keane CEO Synchrony Financial
34 Ajita Rajendra CEO A.O. Smith
35 Robert Greenberg CEO Skechers
36 Aditya Puri Managing Director HDFC Bank
37 Kevin Plank CEO Under Armour
38 Lars Sorensen CEO Novo Nordisk
39 Bradley Tilden CEO Alaska Air
40 Ajay Banga CEO Mastercard
41 Michael Neidorff CEO Centene
42 Michael Mussallem CEO Edwards Lifesciences
43 Masahiro Otake CEO Koito Manufacturing
44 Gary Guthart CEO Intuitive Surgical
45 Vernon Nagel CEO Acuity Brands
46 Henrik Ehrnrooth CEO KONE
47 Yasuyuki Yoshinaga CEO Fuji Heavy Industries
48 Daniel Schulman CEO PayPal
49 Paul Saville CEO NVR
50 Thierry Breton CEO Atos SE

Mark Zuckerberg

CEO, Facebook
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Adam Berry—Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg has willed into being a global phenomenon. Facebook is a nearly 16,000-employee media powerhouse worth $350 billion and also an advertising-technology juggernaut on track for annual revenues of $27 billion in 2016 and gaudy profits of $7 billion. Its core product has almost 1.8 billion users, and Zuckerberg has shrewdly assembled a portfolio of properties to buttress Facebook.


Zuckerberg is rightly recognized for his outsize success. Nevertheless, he is surprisingly underappreciated for his business acumen. Yes, he has delegated the commercial aspects of Facebook to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s polished chief operating officer, a Harvard MBA who is 15 years Zuckerberg’s senior. Sandberg’s presence has fostered an “adult supervision” narrative familiar to the Valley. But unlike, say, the Google founders, who turned over the CEO job to Eric Schmidt for a decade before Larry Page stepped back into the position in 2011, Zuckerberg has remained chief executive throughout Facebook’s 12-year sprint to greatness. Despite repeated doubts when Facebook missed the shift to smartphones, when Facebook was thought to have botched its IPO, when Facebook was seen as losing its luster with young people Zuckerberg has remained the company’s chief product visionary and business strategist. Through bold acquisitions and the articulation of a remarkably constant mission, Zuckerberg has kept Facebook on track in the face of full-frontal assaults from the likes of Google, Twitter, Snapchat, and others.


What makes him so effective as a businessperson? An examination of Zuckerberg’s management approach reveals that his success rests on three pillars: his unique ability to look into the future, his otherworldly consistency, and the business discipline he has nurtured in an industry quite often enamored with bright, shiny objects.


Excerpted from Fortune’s cover story, “How to Lead Like Zuck,” by Adam Lashinsky.

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