To find the executive that Harvard Business Review says is the world’s top performing CEO, don’t bother looking in New York or Silicon Valley.
The honoree, Lars Rebien Sørensen, CEO of Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, is based in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
The publication placed Sørensen atop its annual list that measures CEOs’ enduring success. Its rankings are based heavily on a company’s long-term financial results and—for the first time this year—take into account its environmental, social, and governance performance as measured by investment research firm Sustainalytics.
Sørensen displaced last year’s No. 1, Jeff Bezos of Amazon (who’s now No. 87 thanks to HBR’s new methodology), in part because his company made the decision to focus almost exclusively on diabetes treatment, which has driven up the company’s sales and stock price. Sørensen also benefited from factors that don’t show up in financial data: Novo Nordisk offers insulin at a steep discount to consumers in developing countries, it has transparent and limited political lobbying practices, and it abides by a what Sustainalytics deems a “responsible” policy on animal testing.
John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems is number two on the list. Pablo Isla of Inditex, the Spanish clothing company that owns Zara; Elmar Degenhart of German automotive manufacturing company Continental, and Martin Sorrell of WPP, a marketing services group, round out the list’s top five.