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.

5

Mary Dillon

CEO, Ulta Beauty
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Rebecca Greenfield for Fortune

Since Mary Dillon stepped into the corner office in 2013, Ulta’s stock has doubled—buoyed by sales and profits that have risen at a -competitor-taunting 20% annual clip. Though shares have fallen sharply since hitting an all-time high of $314 in June, dragged down by Wall Street doubts about whether Ulta can maintain its torrid growth, Dillon is moving ahead with Ulta’s next chapter. After landing a deal to sell higher-end products such as Estée Lauder’s MAC, Ulta recently opened its first Manhattan store. The message? Ulta has no intention of remaining solely a strip-mall retailer selling mid-tier products. Dillon is now taking the fight even more directly to the department stores, whose business Ulta has been poaching for years. —Phil Wahba

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