Gary Singer is a founding partner and CEO of Buyology, a strategic marketing firm. Over the years, he has been a management and branding adviser to companies such as Hewlett Packard, McDonald’s, and General Electric. We asked him to share his expert picks for the new Fortune Fantasy Sports Executive League (Anyone can play, and scoring depends, in part, on how closely the player’s picks match those of experts like Singer.)
Singer spoke to Fortune’s Stephanie N. Mehta about his Dream Team, and the logic behind his picks. Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Gary Singer: I’ll start with CEO. I ended up going with Mark Zuckerberg because in my mind he’s the next Steve Jobs. Jobs changed the world by changing several industries. I think Zuckerberg is changing the world by connecting different people in different ways. I think he’s matured into this job; he has vision — not only product vision but market vision. And I like the way he minded the store during the distraction of the Facebook (FB) IPO. A CEO needs to have a vision and put very strong people in place.
And that goes directly to Sheryl Sandberg as COO. She is the perfect COO. She complements Zuckerberg. He has the vision, and she has the discipline. It’s a very interesting combination. I’ve been a COO, and it is sometimes an undefined job. I think between the two of them they defined it brilliantly, and in their case, the COO really is there to complement the CEO’s skill set and make the organization as strong as possible.
Picking the CMO was really difficult for me because there are some friends of mine on this list. Trevor Edwards has been in his job for an incredibly long time for a CMO; he’s associated with the building and maintenance of the Nike (NKE) brand. He’s done a remarkable job at taking Nike global.
For CFO, I picked Patrick Pichette because Google (GOOG) is larger than most governments: It has incredible resources and cash resources. It catapulted from startup to mature company very quickly. My sense is that Patrick has brought the discipline and the financial vision to make each of those transactions and manage what is a huge financial portfolio. The jury is out on some of the acquisitions, in particular Motorola. But it is a financially healthy company with unprecedented resources that seems to be managed very maturely.
For CIO, I went with Cadir Lee. Zynga (ZNGA) is just a remarkable story and given its growth — and given that it has kept up with its growth — I have to give points to the CIO who built that infrastructure.
For non-executive chair, I picked Jim Skinner. He has been one of the most successful CEOs in American history, running an established company. He grew up in the McDonald’s (MCD) system, he was smart enough to have a very smooth transition, and he was smart enough to step aside when the going was good.
Chief strategist? That was easy for me: I picked Larry Ellison, partly for his own accomplishments, but he also played a major role in Walter Isaacson’s book about Steve Jobs — I think Zuckerberg talks to him, too — as the pundit that everyone turns to for advice. For the strategist I’d want on my all-star team, I’d want someone that all these hugely successful people are turning to.
My utility player is Lou Gerstner. IBM (IBM) was an old, tired elephant in a rapidly changing industry. In a short amount of time, IBM went from being a has-been to being a future-looking company. He literally transformed a box maker into a service company. Not to take anything away from Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg, but I would argue it is much harder to transform an organization like IBM than to invent a new industry.
Engineer/designer is an interesting category because those are different functions, but I knew my answer as soon as I saw Jony Ive on the list. If you take design out of Apple (AAPL), I’m not sure what you’re left with. Jony Ive has changed the world way beyond Apple. The stakes are so much higher now [for everyone else] in terms of the quality of design.