Ten years ago, Chief Executive initiated a unique, annual award to honor a CEO whose business and management performance serves as a beacon of excellence to others. Though there are many awards given to top executives for many reasons, ours differs in one key respect: It is decided by chief executives themselves.
Unlike the Most Valuable Player award, CE’s Chief Executive of the Year award is not bestowed by the fans, the sportswriters, or the club owners, but rather by the players themselves. CE’s November, December, January/ February, and March issues include ballots asking CEOs and presidents to nominate a current chief executive of a company with at least $500 million in sales or assets. Each ballot begins with the general criteria, directing readers to consider any CEO who has, for example, best managed technological innovation, orchestrated a al turnaround, or achieved outstanding performance over a period of at least five years. CE assembles dossiers on the 10 most frequently nominated choices, which the selection committee examines. Each committee judge (see page 8) can add one name to the list of finalists if he thinks the list of 10 contenders is incomplete. (With the exception of Bob Lear, CE’s advisory board chairman, judges typically serve about three years on the committee.)
Compared with earlier years, 1995’s group of finalists (see box) reflects a diversified roster of candidates in terms of location, industry, corporate performance, and personal background.
Readers will recognize the return of respected CEOs such as Caterpillar’s Don Fites, Chrysler’s Bob Eaton, and Allied Signal’s Larry Bossidy. Familiar, too, are steady performers David Glass of Wal-Mart and Bob Allen of AT&T. New to the list are IBM’s Lou Gerstner, Dow Chemical’s Frank Popoff, Magma Copper’s J. Burgess Winter, Travelers’ Sandy Weill, and WPL Holdings’ Erroll Davis, representing computing, chemicals, mining, financial services and energy utilities, respectively.
If history is any guide, the judges will seek outstanding leadership, vision, and sustained performance in varying economic and industry conditions. Look for one of these 10 candidates to appear on our July/August cover.