Announcing …
Chief Executive’s CEO of the Year Program

The annual CEO of the Year award is given at an invitation-only event hosted by NYSE and Chief Executive Group at the New York Stock Exchange usually held in July.


Jim McNerney, former chairman and CEO of Boeing and the 2015 CEO of the Year, presents the CEO of the Year award to 2016’s honoree, AT&T chairman and CEO Randall L. Stephenson.

The Gala Event

The CEO of the Year Gala is a unique event in American business. Peer CEOs gather to celebrate the accomplishments of the winner, as well as to rededicate themselves to their highest ideals as servant leaders who daily balance the needs of consumers, employees and investors. When done right, great CEOs deliver tremendous benefits to all three constituencies.

Recognition by peers of the highest caliber is an unrivaled honor in any endeavor: in the competitive set of U.S. business leaders, the competition is exceptional. Indeed, the list of 31 prior winners is the most elite collection of business leaders anywhere.

CEOs of the Year typically receive multiple honors over their careers; their businesses are often the cornerstones of their communities. But winners agree that this honor is different and, in many ways, more meaningful than other recognition they receive. The fact that the award is bestowed by peers adds special meaning.

How the Initial Selection Process Works

Since its inception in 1986, the CEO of the Year Nominations for CEO of the Year are garnered from their executive peers. Nominations for the CEO of the Year must be made by another CEO, Chairman or President, and are accepted throughout the year. CEOs must be in their position for a minimum of 5 years to qualify. There is no charge for nominations or participation in any way.

We alert the CEO community to the call for nominations in Chief Executive magazine and in our eNewsletter, CEO Briefing. The 10 most-frequently nominated CEOs are contacted by our editorial team and asked to provide detailed information on company performance and the CEO’s role. Detailed dossiers, including financial metrics, are prepared on the candidates and provided to the members of the Judging Committee.



The 10 most frequently nominated persons are considered finalists. Each finalist is asked to agree to two very modest conditions before he or she can be considered an active finalist. Each must agree, if selected by his or her peers, to receive the award in person at a date and time mutually convenient with the outgoing CEO of the Year. Secondly, he or she must agree to be interviewed for a cover feature in Chief Executive magazine.

The names of active finalists, together with background data on each, are submitted to the selection committee made up of present and sometimes former CEOs. (Each year’s committee members are featured in the announcement article.) Early in the calendar year the selection committee meets in person to discuss the criteria to be applied and makes its ultimate selection.

Chief Executive has no vote in the outcome and accepts the decision of the judges as final. Some time over the summer, Chief Executive hosts a gala celebratory dinner for the incoming Chief Executive of the Year where the outgoing honoree delivers an accolade on behalf of the CEOs who made the selection. In the early years this was traditionally held at the Metropolitan Club. In more recent years, this has been held at the NYSE.

2017 Selection Committee

Judging and selection of a winner is done by a Judging Committee of distinguished peer CEOs in a meeting held in March at the New York Stock Exchange. The 2017 committee consists of:

  • Cathy Engelbert (CEO, Deloitte LLC)
  • Dan Glaser (CEO, Marsh & McLennan)
  • Fred Hassan (former Chairman, Bausch & Lomb; Partner, Warburg Pincus)
  • Tamara Lundgren (CEO, Schnitzer Steel)
  • Jim McNerney, (Chairman, Boeing  and 2015 CEO of the Year)
  • Bob Nardelli (CEO, XLR-8)
  • William R. Nuti (CEO, NCR)
  • Tom Quinlan III (CEO, R.R. Donnelley)
  • Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (CEO, The Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute)
  • Mark Weinberger (CEO, EY)
  • Maggie Wilderotter (CEO, Frontier Communications)

Ted Bililies, Ph.D., Chief Talent Officer, Managing Director, AlixPartners, is the exclusive advisor to the 2017 Selection Committee.

Criteria for Evaluating a Chief Executive of the Year

Each year’s selection committee agrees upon the criteria to be used in evaluating finalists. Since 1993, most of the following 11 elements have been used, recognizing that, from year-to-year, committees have emphasized some criteria more than others in reaching their final decision.

  • Courage
  • Leadership
  • Vision
  • Demonstrable impact on company, industry and business in general
  • Degree of difficulty
  • Sustained performance
  • Employee engagement, leadership development and internal people processes
  • External benchmarks: Customer value and shareholder value created
  • Innovativeness
  • Moral dimension, personal character (Is there a coherent “higher” purpose?)
  • CEO respect/beacon of excellence/reputation