Businessperson of the Year

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We start with results. Each December, when we choose Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year, we run the numbers, weighing 10 financial metrics including 12-month and 36-month increases in profits and revenue (we use a three-year window to eliminate any companies that post a great year following a slump). We also weight stock performance and total shareholder returns over the same period. Only then do we factor in those intangibles that separate so-so CEOs from the standouts—things like business influence, strategic vision, and the impact of their leadership. The result? Twenty businesspeople who delivered.
10

Francis Desouza

CEO, Illumina
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Courtesy of Illumina

The Ethiopian-born deSouza lived in both Addis Ababa and Dubai before blazing his way to a spot at MIT at just 16. After stints at Microsoft and Symantec, he landed at Illumina in 2016. As the market leader in the DNA sequencing space, Illumina partners with at-home DNA test firms like 23andMe and pharma giants such as Amgen—an infiltration strategy that makes it a key link in the drug development, consumer health, and medical testing supply chains. DeSouza hasn’t been shy about striking deals either. This month, Illumina snapped up smaller rival Pacific Biosciences for about $1.2 billion. The results? Illumina’s shareholder return has been 60% over the past 12 months and more than 200% over the past five years.

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