The formula for making Barron’s list appears to consist of several key ingredients, among them innovation, transformation, growth, stamina, staying power, vision and leadership.
This year, Barron’s made several changes to its annual list, removing and replacing one-third of the names. Ten leaders returned from last year, while 10 names were new.
Of note, Barron’s does not rank the 30, or choose one who stood out. All 30 are treated as equal, each with their own unique reason for being chosen. For some, it was innovation. For instance: Honeywell’s David Cote “reshaped an industrial stalwart for the digital age,” while Jeff Bezos of Amazon “kept reinventing the next big thing.” For others, it was pure growth. For instance, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase “built the largest bank,” while Bernard Arnault’s LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vutton had a record year despite a global slowdown.
Names on the list that you might expect include Warren Buffett, Bob Iger of Disney, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Nike CEO Mark Parker, Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Fred Smith of FedEx.
Mark Zuckerberg made the list two years in a row because Facebook seems unstoppable. Brian Roberts of Comcast is being recognized for fending off disruptors. Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen gets credit for leading the software industry’s transformation to monthly subscriptions. And Jeffrey Ettinger of Hormel may run a 125-year-old company, but it is still growing. “Four or five years ago, we started thinking about what kinds of products we were missing,” he told Barron’s. The company then worked to become more global, multicultural and well-rounded, with a focus on healthy, holistic foods. Meanwhile, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, has righted his ship, after a couple of years of rumors that the Netflix bubble might have started to burst. Now, it’s bigger than ever.
If Barron’s were to rank one as the best of the best, who would they pick? Hard to tell. Of note, Chief Executive has already recognized three of Barron’s choices as previous CEOs of the Year: Bob Iger (2014), David Cote (2013), and Fred Smith (2004). Excluding those three, Larry Page of Alphabet/Google seems unstoppable, as does Kevin Plank of Under Armour. Originally a scrappy upstart, he’s giving global athletic apparel leaders Nike and Adidas a run for their money.
Who do you think should have made Barron’s list and who do you think shouldn’t be there? Leave your comments below.
See Barron’s full list here. (Requires subscription.)