The Best CEOs of The Past 20 Years

Here is an excerpt from an article by  and for Business Insider (2011).

Yes, some of the information is dated but the criteria for selection are rock-solid within the historical context. Here are five of the 21 CEOs discussed.

To read the complete article and check out others, please click here.

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Ted Turner once said that if he only had some humility, he’d be perfect.

It’s true that you need a big ego to carry a multinational corporation. But you also need creativity, hard work, leadership and a dozen of other traits to rise above the competition.

So how do you define greatness? We ranked a bunch of recent American CEOs, assigning up to 10 points for growth, 10 for corporate legacy and 10 for personal reputation.

For example, take News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch. Incredible growth over three decades: 8 points. A corporate legacy that changed an industry: 8 points. A polarizing figure not known for his management style: 5 points.

#21 Indra Nooyi, Pepsi

Tenure: 2006 – Present

Company growth: 3
Corporate legacy: 4
Personal reputation: 8

When Nooyi assumed the CEO post, she was the fifth CEO in the company’s history, and the first woman. Previously she served as CFO since 2000, during which she is credited with increasing the company’s revenue by 72% annually.

Last year, Nooyi completed the $7.8 billion purchase of Pepsi’s two largest bottlers in North America. She’s also expanding the company internationally, especially with the purchase of Wimm-Bill-Dann, which makes Pepsi the largest food-and-beverage business in Russia.

Nooyi has long pushed for a diversified brand. “The minute you’ve developed a new business model, it’s extinct, because somebody is going to copy it,” she told Fortune.

Today, Pepsi’s market cap is $111 billion.

#20 Alan Mulally, Ford

Tenure: 2006 – Present

Company growth: 3
Corporate legacy: 5
Personal reputation: 7

It was equally a stroke of good fortune and bad luck when Mulally took charge of Ford in 2006. The company, and the auto industry, was healthy and robust. Two years later, everything changed. Auto industry executives were pleading with lawmakers on Capitol Hill just to keep their companies afloat.

Ford managed to decline government bailout money, while competitors GM and Chrysler struggled. Mulally simplified the company’s product development and ultimately laid off over 10% of the salaried workforce.

After Ford lost $29.3 billion between 2006 and 2008, it finally managed to post a $2.7 billion profit in 2009 and is continuing to recover.

“Alan’s style is pretty relentless,” chief financial officer Lewis Booth told CNN. “He says, ‘If this is the reality, what are we going to do about it?’

#19 Bob Iger, Disney

Tenure: 2005 – Present

Company growth: 3
Corporate legacy: 5
Personal reputation: 8

Iger joined Disney as CEO in 2005, succeeding ousted head Michael Eisner after an internal struggle.

Despite the turbulent transition, Iger managed to regain a large amount strategic control, centralizing much of the decision-making power that was lost to the company’s departments. He also reconciled the strife between former board member and Walt Disney scion Roy Disney and the company’s management.

His biggest move was the acquisition of Pixar in $7.4 billion, which has helped Disney get back to its roots in animation.

#18 James Sinegal, Costco

Tenure: 1983 – Present

Company growth: 6
Corporate legacy: 6
Personal reputation: 4

A protégé of FedMart and Price Club founder Sol Price, Sinegal co-founded Costco Wholesale Corp. in 1983 and proceeded to take the members-only warehouse store model into brand new territory.

Under Sinegal, Costco became the first warehouse store to offer fresh food, gas stations, pharmacies, eye-care clinics and more.

Costco’s market cap is now $36 billion and leads the warehouse club industry in sales volume.

#17 Mickey Drexler, Gap and J. Crew

Tenure: 1983 – 2001 (Gap); 2001 – Present (J. Crew)

Company growth: 4
Corporate legacy: 5
Personal reputation: 8

As Gap’s stock price rose exponentially during the 1990s, Drexler earned a nickname: corporate turnaround king. When he did the same thing with J. Crew the next decade, retailers called him a “Merchant Prince.” Both titles are appropriate, as he turned the companies into robust, iconic American brands.

He took his first CEO gig at age 36, and after proving himself at Ann Taylor, he joined Gap in 1983. He boldly restructured management and created a new “casual Friday” culture in America. At J. Crew, he sophisticated the clothing, and asks his employees to only market items that they’re crazy about.

He took Gap from $480 million in sales to $13.6 billion within two decades, and brought J.Crew up from $700 million to $1.7 billion in revenue within a decade.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

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