A new generation of business leaders are asserting their capabilities and determination around the world. They comprise the post-millennial vanguard forging our global economy. Complementing and supplanting the European dominated hierarchies of the post-World War II era, they include Asian and Latino leaders. Taking advantage of leaps in technology and the homogenization of culture, they are borderless. They may be entrepreneurs, ambitious scions of established family enterprises or executives of multinational corporations, but they’re all enabled by the spread of free-market capitalism. Many are making their mark in high-tech and emerging sectors, while others are blazing new trails in traditional staples of industry. They tend to be young, with universal sensibilities. Despite the increasing redistribution of American business might to the rest of the world, many have important ties to the U.S. It would be impossible to put together any kind of objective list of these new leaders. Even empirical measures such as net worth-if they could be known-prove simplistic, because energy, ideas and potential are the most important currencies in this arena.
Yet Chief Executive has identified a dozen individuals from around the world who clearly exemplify the new generation, their backgrounds, their attitudes- and their possibilities.
Alberto Arebalos – Google
Arebalos has mettle on his CV. As a Reuters reporter, the Buenos Aires native specialized in danger, covering the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia and the messy rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. By 1997, he was its youngest regional editor, based in Miami. Cisco recruited him in 2000 to head Latin American public affairs.
He jumped to Google last fall, where one of his most challenging tasks is to help open up a corporate culture that has tended toward the secretive-even though its success is built on the Internet. Google “is built on goodwill, and we could lose it in a moment,” Arabalos says. “This is a company that touches practically everyone’s life nearly every day.”
Arebalos looks up to John Chambers, CEO of Cisco. “He’s an excellent leader.” When he’s not traveling, he tinkers with new devices to enhance his hobbies of listening to music and watching movies.
Shouvik Bhattacharya Adea
The Bangladesh native leapt onto the fast track at Tata, the highly successful India-based conglomerate. Then he took advantage of a U.S. fellowship and joined McKinsey, then Booz Allen. Adea, a Dallas-based company started by an Indian entrepreneur, was a burgeoning client, but then crumpled a few years ago after losing its primary customer. Fresh from a Sloan Fellowship at MIT, Bhattacharya accepted the Adea board’s invitation to become CEO. Bhattacharya has put Adea on an upward trajectory by courting former clients, recruiting new ones in retailing and health care, and opening an office in China. “Our kind of services are becoming important to mid-market companies all over,” he says, “so that’s where we’re penetrating-and that’s behind our growth.”
Bhattacharya’s U.S. ties include a Nebraska-born physician wife. So he often surprises American business colleagues with his knowledge of college football, his cowboy hat and guitar, and performances of Garth Brooks songs.
Constantino de Oliveira – GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes
The Sao Paulo-based company went public in 2004, providing de Oliveira with more capital for expansion. South American destinations have expanded to 60. Last year, GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes acquired and integrated venerable Varig (VRG Linhas Aereas). Varig recently added five European destinations and planned to launch flights to New York and Miami this year.
Perhaps as a function of growing up with three brothers, the 39-yearold de Oliveira says he’s “a man of few words. I prefer to hear a lot and to lead people, converging our energies on the same point.”
Michael Hoffmann – Hewlett-Packard
The supplies, image and printing operation Hoffmann runs is crucial to growth because he’s in charge of the high-margin products that keep HP’s millions of installed printers churning out billions of pages worldwide.
A member of the fifth generation of merchant families on both sides, Hoffmann leveraged his sales acumen and dedication to HP into a career-long blitz through many corporate functions and locations. “Now, I’m thinking about how markets are developing three to 10 years out and driving the right decisions around technology, research and development, our manufacturing footprint, and workforce development,” he says. “But I also need to make sure our current execution is flawless.”
Hoffmann lives in Munich because his family is well settled there, though it means more travel for him. Between flights and dinners at home, he trains for two or three triathlons each year.
Jacob Hsu – Symbio
“We’ve been very successful because we understand how China works,” says Hsu, whose Beijing based company has reached about $50 million in sales and plans an IPO early next year. “Our bridge between East and West is our core competitive advantage.”
Hsu joined Symbio in Silicon Valley in 1998, when the startup was becoming an early outsourcer of software development to China, for blue-chip clients including Microsoft and IBM. He ran U.S. operations, then started a financial services division in Tokyo in 2000. Symbio’s China business boomed after China clamped down on IP pirates and got approval to join the World Trade Organization. Now global headquarters are in Beijing, and Symbio has 800 people on the mainland. Hsu co-hosts a weekly game of Texas Hold ‘Em for Western CEOs and Chinese venture capitalists. The latter “haven’t quite gotten the bluffing thing down yet,” he says.
Laurent Kocher – Orange Business Services
Kocher, 42, was always intrigued by technology, and began his career selling IBM hardware and software in Europe. Orange recruited him with the promise that he could help create the business market’s “shift toward the communications space-enabling people, machines and systems to communicate at any time, from anywhere,” as he puts it.
Double-digit annual growth ensued, and much of Kocher’s task now is to acquire and integrate other operations into his Orange unit-including three French companies and one in India during the last two years alone.
“Integrating service companies is quite a challenge,” he concedes. “But if you set the right vision, and people can recognize themselves in the ambition, you can get people on board.”
Kocher’s favorite leisure pursuit is so French it should come with a sauce: reading political philosophy. He also skis-sans books.
Nancy Markley –Tech Avenue Ventures
“I loved science growing up, but I was always more interested in commercializing it,” says the 42- year-old Markley, who has a PhD in life sciences. As an executive of a biotech startup, she ended up managing a spinoff enterprise that produces natural emulsions from oilseeds-and landed natural cosmetics giant Burt’s Bees as a customer.
At the same time, Calgary-based Markley was nurturingTech Avenue from scratch. Among other things, the VC concern is piloting a jaw-friendly tongue-retention device for snorers and is helping a biotech startup rebrand and relaunch a natural cold-sore treatment derived from geraniums.
“All of the technologies we’re working with today are aimed at global markets,” Markley notes. “We are helping attract talent and financing internationally to fund these products and drive them to market.”
The mother of two can’t recommend Donald Trump’s childrearing skills but likes his approach to business. “He has taken his talent to a different level,” she says. “He has done it his way.”
Geraldine McBride – SAP, Asia-Pacific
The New Zealand native and former frog researcher spent about a decade in sales with IBM in South Africa before jumping to SAP after meeting its dynamic co-founder, Hasso Plattner. McBride has since dramatically jump-started SAP’s growth about every three years in a different territory: South Africa and Namibia, New Zealand, the CPG sector in the U.S., the North American field business, and then Australia and New Zealand.
“Don’t give me a business in a steady state,” McBride says. “I enjoy the challenges of being able to take business from a good state and making it high-growth. It’s semirepeatable; it’s about aspirational and transformational leadership.” And pulling that off, in part, depends on establishing three-year objectives and on paying a bit more for good people.
McBride manages to satisfy her lifelong interest in zoology with frequent hikes from her homes in relatively untamed areas of Australia and New Zealand.
Carlos Antonio Salas – Stratos Renewables
“We will be the most beautiful woman in the bar.” Salas received his undergraduate degree and MBA in the U.S. and was an international agronomy consultant before he joined the Peruvian government as undersecretary of agriculture in 2002.
Then he came up with the proposition for Stratos: Grow sugarcane on a desert strip on Peru‘s Pacific coast, watering it with runoff from the Andes mountains. By creating farmland where there was none, the venture will be not only carbonneutral but actually carbon-positive.
Salas got financing and is building a distillery that should be in operation yet this year. Then Stratos will be greeting customers in the U.S. Salas was a national amateur tennis champion several times, most recently when he was 31 years old.
Sheila Jane Sarver – General Motors
“We’re committed to being an industry leader in India, and we have global work that we’re doing here too,” says Sarver, 44, who has been able to attract a lot of top talent to GM from the region known as the “Silicon Valley of India.”
At the same time, Sarver says her performance is carrying extra expectations because “there are not a lot of women in senior technical positions in India. The network is much smaller.”
GM thinks enough of Sarver’s work so far-and her potential-that it selected her as one of just a couple dozen executives around the world to be featured in interviews and activities attached to the celebration of GM’s centennial this year. “I do have aspirations,” she says, “to greater corporate leadership.”
Beatrice Trussardi – Trussardi
“The constant challenge that we face as a fashion brand is that we have a history,” says Trussardi, who joined the company nine years ago as head of marketing after getting undergrad and MBA degrees in New York-and then working in the art-museum business. “It’s an advantage in one way, but you also have to communicate that you’re innovating and contemporary and proposing new products.”
Trussardi focused on creating a more flexible management structure and on adjusting its approach market by market to enhance the brands’ awareness abroad. She also got behind a not-for-profit group that is working to boost worldwide appreciation of Italy as a center of excellence for fashion design, food and art.
Trussardi is a member of the Young Global Leaders group established by the Davos-based World Economic Forum.
Johan Stael von Holstein – IQube
“I’m not smart enough to pick raisins out of a cake, so I eat the whole cake and therefore I get all the raisins,” he says. “Good entrepreneurs don’t need help as much as they need enough time.” Von Holstein, 45, says that IQube’s initial thrust is to help solve the problem of anemic entrepreneurialism in Sweden. But eventually, he plans to franchise IQube internationally.
He knows what he’s doing. In 1996, von Holstein grew a consulting startup, Icon Medialab, to more than 3,500 employees in 32 offices in 21 countries.
Accomplishment has allowed von Holstein some idle periods, including a few years spent skiing with his family in the Alps.