Businessperson of the Year

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It starts with results. Each December, when we choose Fortunes Businessperson of the Year, we focus first on CEOs who are delivering the goods. Through an exhaustive screening process, we rank companies by 12- and 36-month increases in profits, revenues, and stock performance, then go deeper to include factors like return on capital. (We give more weight to the 12-month results to identify who’s on top today, but also include the 36-month figures to weed out those who may have just had a lucky year.) But it’s not only about the numbers. We lean toward CEOs with vision—those impacting the world beyond their companies. The 20 star executives that follow are doing nothing less than defining the future of business.

19

Barbara Rentler

CEO, Ross Stores
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Ross Stores CEO Barbara Rentler may be press-averse (to the point, even, that she won’t pose for a photo), but it’s easy to see why she prefers to let the off-price retailer’s numbers speak for themselves. In the face of intense competition from its upmarket rival T.J. Maxx and the expansion of off-price locations by Nordstrom Rack and Macy’s Backstage, Ross Stores continues to report quarter after quarter of sales growth and new store openings. Rentler, with the company since 1986 (and CEO since June 2014), has focused on what brings shoppers in day after day: megadeals on big-name-brand items. In the three years since Rentler has been the chief executive, Ross Stores has hit annual records on revenue and profit each year—and the stock has delivered a 95% return to shareholders. And Ross has built that success staying clear of e-commerce too. It’s now worth $25 billion—or four times Macy’s. —Phil Wahba

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