As Warren Buffett sees it, the best CEOs always think like business owners. What he means is that great leaders combine passion, commitment, creativity, and an entrepreneurial drive. That mix isn't easy to find, but Buffett definitely is onto something. So, as Barron's drew up its annual list of the 30 best CEOs around the world, we looked hard for ownership mentalities.
Buffett certainly has one. Berkshire Hathaway
Our list includes a mix of familiar names, like JPMorgan Chase's
It was a tough call to remove several other former members of our club, like Gordon Nixon of Canada's Royal Bank
Our list is global. Eighteen CEOs come from the U.S., seven from Europe, three from Asia, and one each from Australia and Canada. To see Profiles of all 30 leaders click here.
Our selection process isn't based on any formula. It reflects the views of theBarron's staff, drawing on insight from investors, analysts, and executives. Of course, as an investment-oriented magazine, we do look closely at stock-price performance. The best CEOs deliver for all "stakeholders" -- customers, employees and investors. There's no better example of that than Schultz, who provides health insurance and retirement accounts even to part-timers in an industry not known for good treatment of workers. With Starbucks shares up 50% in the past year, shareholders aren't complaining.
We require a CEO to have been on the job for at least three years -- and we prefer five years -- because it takes time to have an impact on a large organization. We generally want companies to have market values of at least $5 billion.
It takes a global perspective to run any big company, and the most successful CEOs tend to be those that have a winning international strategy.
Notable innovators include Marc Benioff, the brash founder of Salesforce.com, which pioneered the delivery of software over the Internet and created a $20 billion company from the cloud. Joseph Papa has turned Perrigo into the leading supplier of generic over-the-counter drugs -- and generated one of the best shareholder returns in the Standard & Poor's 500 in the past five years. His obsession with quality control is paying off at a time when makers of branded products like Johnson & Johnson
Lew Frankfort has worked for Coach for three decades, and led the company since it was taken public by Sara Lee
The little-known Tadashi Yanai of Fast Retailing
Intel's Otellini has done a lot to make the pioneering chip maker relevant again -- and less reliant on personal computers. It's a closet play on the cloud because it makes the bulk of the processors used by servers that store a soaring amount of data, and it's also getting traction in mobile, long a weak spot. Intel's combination of an ample dividend and stock buybacks is a model for how tech companies ought to return cash to shareholders.
We put Larry Fink of BlackRock in our first list of top CEOs in 2005, when he wasn't well known outside of Wall Street. He has rewarded that selection by becoming an industry leader and a go-to guy for policymakers when they need an honest view of business and finance.
Fink isn't afraid to speak his mind. BlackRock may be one of the globe's largest bond managers, but that didn't stop the firm from running recent newspapers ads highlighting the risk in U.S. Treasuries: "2% isn't a return; it's a retreat."
If you think we put the wrong people on the list or want to make a suggestion for next year, please write to email@example.com. We take advice seriously.