Top 10 CEOs
Business Chief takes a closer look at the CEOs of Forbes’ Top 10 largest public companies in the USA, ranked by market value.
10. Darren Woods - ExxonMobil
In 1992, Darren Woods joined ExxonMobil as a planning analyst. After 20 years at the business he was appointed president of ExxonMobil’s Refining and Supply Company, until 2014, when he became Senior Vice President of ExxonMobil Corporation. In 2016, Woods was appointed Chairman of the Board and then CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation in 2017, a position he still holds.
Founded in 1999, ExxonMobil is one of the worlds largest publicly traded energy providers and chemical manufacturers. The company applies next-generation technology to its operations to safely and responsibly meet growing energy and chemical demands.
Market capital: US$343.4bn
Headquarters: Irving, Texas
Industry sector: Oil and gas
9. Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. - Visa
Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. has sat on the Board of Directors at Visa since 2014. Kelly Jr. became CEO of the company in 2016; he still holds this role, alongside his recently appointed role as Chairman of the Board in 2019.
Prior to Visa, Kelly Jr. has held multiple leadership positions at companies including: American Express Company (President), Intersection (President and CEO), TowerBrook Capital Partners LP (Management Advisor), NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee (Chairman, President and CEO) and Paypal Visit Committee (Chairman).
Founded in 1958, Visa is a multinational finance services corporation that utilises technology and innovation to provide the best way for consumers and merchants to pay and be paid.
Market capital: US$351.9bn
Headquarters: Foster City, California
Industry sector: Financial services
8. Alex Gorsky - Johnson & Johnson
In 1988, Alex Gorsky began his career at Johnson & Johnson as a sales representative with Janssen Pharmaceutica. In his time at the company, Gorsky has advanced through positions in sales, marketing and management. In 2012, he was appointed CEO and Chairman.
“The world today requires the very best that Johnson & Johnson has to offer, and we are constantly striving to come up with ways we can innovate and lead,”Gorsky has previously explained.
Founded in 1886, Johnson & Johnson has been operating for over 130 years, providing affordable, accessible medical devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods to create healthier communities.
Market capital: US$366.2bn
Headquarters: New Brunswick, New Jersey
Industry sector: Medical equipment and supplies
7. Jamie Dimon - JPMorgan Chase
Since 2005, Jamie Dimon has been the CEO of JPMorgan Chase. Before joining the company, Dimon has held multiple executive roles at Bank One, Citigroup Inc., the Travelers Group, Commercial Credit Company and American Express Company
In addition to being CEO and Chairman of the Board at JPMorgan Chase, Dimon sits on the Board of Directors at Harvard Business School and Catalyst, Chairman of the Business Roundtable and a member of The Business Council. Dimon is also on the Board of Trustees at the New York University School of Medicine.
JPMorgan Chase is one of the world’s oldest and largest financial institutions that can be traced back to 1799. Its heritage is built on mergers and acquisitions of several companies over the years including: J.P. Morgan & Co., The Chase Manhattan Bank, Bank One and more.
Market capital: US$368.5bn
Headquarters: New York, New York
Industry sector: Banking
6. Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook
In 2004 - at the age of 19 - Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook alongside Dustin Moskovitz, Chris R. Hughes, Andrew McCollum and Eduardo P. Saverin. Zuckerberg has been CEO of the company since its founding.
Facebook began its journey as a platform for Harvard University students to match student names with photos. In 2005, Accel invested US$12mn into the platform, opening it up to other colleges, high schools and international schools. Seven years later Facebook became a public company; Zuckerberg still owns roughly 15% of the stocks.
Today Facebook Inc. owns multiple social media platforms including: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp and Oculus.
Market capital: US$512bn
Headquarters: Menlo Park, California
Industry sector: Social media and technology
5. Berkshire Hathaway - Warren Buffett
The “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffett began his career by establishing his own company in 1956 - Buffett Partnership Ltd. The organisation identified undervalued companies, including Berkshire Hathaway, which was originally a textile company. In 1965 Buffett acquired 100% of Berkshire Hathaway, becoming CEO of the company.
Today, the business is a multinational conglomerate holding company that owns or holds controlling interests by investing in or acquiring multiple companies including: Heinz, Benjamin Moore, Geico, Dairy Queen and more. With its large market capital, Berkshire Hathaway is one of the largest and most successful conglomerates in the world.
Market capital: US$516.4bn
Headquarters: Omaha, Nebraska
Industry sector: Investments
4. Sundar Pichai - Alphabet
December 2019 saw Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, step down from their executive roles at parent company Alphabet, with Sundar Pichai assuming the role of CEO. Prior to being CEO of Alphabet, Pichai began his career at Google in 2004, working his way through the business to become CEO in 2015.
Pichai graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, with a degree in Metallurgical Engineering.
Established in 2015, Alphabet was the product of a company restructure to better manage its “Other Bets”. Today, it is the parent company of multiple subsidiaries, including Google, Waymo, Calico, Sidewalk Labs, DeepMind, Wing and Loon.
Market capital: US$863.2bn
Headquarters: Mountain View, California
Industry sector: Computer services
3. Jeff Bezos - Amazon
In 1994 Jeff Bezos founded the multinational technology company, Amazon. He has been CEO of Amazon since its founding in 1994 and currently owns nearly 12% of the stocks. In addition to being the founder and CEO of Amazon, Bezos owns the Washington Post and Blue Origin. He also has a Bachelors of Arts and Science from Princeton University.
Starting its operational journey out of Bezos’ garage in Seattle by selling books, Amazon has grown exponentially over the last 26 years. Today it provides a vast suite of services that covers everything from e-commerce and logistics through to web services and technology.
Market capital: US$916.1bn
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington
Industry sector: E-commerce, technology, web services and logistics
2. Satya Nadella - Microsoft
Joining Microsoft in 1992, Satya Nadella has held multiple leadership roles within the company before being appointed CEO in 2014. These include Executive Vice President of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group, Vice President of the Microsoft Business Division and leader of Research and Development for the Online Services Division.
Nadella’s qualifications include a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Mangalore University, a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago.
Currently, Nadella is on the Board of Trustees for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Chicago. as well as being on the Board of Directors at Starbucks.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is a multinational technology company that was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Originally, the company was named Micro-Soft, standing for microprocessors and software. In the early years, Gates and Allen developed software for the Altair 8800. By 1985 Microsoft had released its Windows software, becoming one of the world’s largest personal computer software companies.
Market capital: US$946.5bn
Headquarters: Redmond, Washington
Industry sector: Software and technology
1. Tim Cook - Apple
Starting his Apple career in 1998, Tim Cook has held multiple leadership roles within the company, including: Chief Operating Officer and Heading Apple’s Macintosh Division. In August 2011 Cook was appointed CEO.
Prior to Apple, Cook has held leadership positions at Compaq (Vice President of Corporate Materials), Intelligent Electronics (Chief Operating Officer of the Reseller Division) and IBM (DIrector of North American Fulfillment). Cook also has an MBA from Duke University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University.
Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne and Stephen Wozniak, Apple is a multinational technology company that designs, develops and sells electronics, software and online services.
Market capital: US$961.3bn
Headquarters: Cupertino, California
Industry sector: Computer technology
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.