Corporate Executives to Watch

I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.

– Theodore Roosevelt

Corporate Executives to Watch explores a few of the hottest CEOs and senior-level executives running big businesses today. One of the challenges of compiling a list of CEOs that we admire is the fickle nature of business; some of our favorite CEOs that might otherwise top our list have been fired or stepped down from their positions. Without advance notice of who might be next on the chopping block, we selected our favorite, top-performing corporate executives to watch, admire and emulate.

Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York gives us more detail about some of the hottest corporate executives to watch while Jeffrey Goldman of Chicago, Illinois offers information about high-flying airline CEOs.

Corporate Executives to Watch: Profiles of the Hottest CEOs by Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York

Corporate Executives to Watch lists some of the hottest CEOs and senior level executives running companies today. Our favorite executives oversee insurance and technology companies. Two of them are two of the richest men in the world; all of them have innovative and exciting ideas, dedication and vision.

Michael McCallister of Humana is a Corporate Executive to Watch
Michael McCallister of Humana makes the CEO list of corporate executives to watch because of his influence on bottom line profits. In less than six years after taking over as CEO of the health insurance company, McCallister managed to increase Humana’s shares by almost 90%, with a 40% annualized return over five years. McCallister also takes an innovative approach to regulatory compliance, turning it into a benefit for employees and customers. Regulatory compliance is often the bane of an insurance company’s existence and results in delays and high expenditures in ongoing efforts to keep up with new laws. Humana has complied with regulatory statues for years, so recent changes to HIPAA requirements and SOX (accounting regulatory procedures) were not a show-stopper for the company.

No CEO List is Complete without Steve Jobs of Apple
The innovative leadership qualities of Steve Jobs of Apple make him a shoo-in for any list of hot CEOs. Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple introduced the popular iMac, MacBook, iPod and iPhone and every revamped version of these products has customers running to the store to snatch them up. Jobs became a corporate executive to watch after returning to Apple in 1996, following a 10 year absence from the company. Since his return, shares have soared and the company continues to introduce innovative products on the cutting edge.

Corporate Executives to Watch: Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett remains one of our favorite corporate executives to watch. Buffett amassed a net worth of more than $50 billion through Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company that owns many other companies, primarily focused on the insurance sector. Buffett is an interesting character; his investment policy is based on hard research and a down-home instinct for value. He’s known for being frugal and still lives in the same house in Omaha, Nebraska that he purchased in 1958. His annual take-home salary of “only” $100,000 is dwarfed by other CEO salaries. His billions are attributed to his wise investments, including investing in and purchasing other insurance companies. Buffett made a startling announcement in 2006, when he stated he planned to donate his fortune to charity. According to Forbes magazine, Buffett is the third richest person in the world.

Bill Gates Tops CEO Lists
Bill Gates’ tenure as Microsoft CEO and later, Chairman, placed him at the top of Forbes magazine’s richest person in the world list for more than a decade, with a net worth of $56 billion. Gates co-founded the software company Microsoft in 1975. Since then, Microsoft and its computer operating systems and computer applications have become the core software sold with most PCs and computer notebooks today. Deeply involved in product strategy in the early years of the software company, Gates started the charitable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and pledged to slowly move out of active duty at Microsoft to focus on philanthropy. The foundation provides funds to worthy causes including libraries, schools, global health, eco-friendly transportation alternatives and the needy. Warren Buffett has been the foundation’s largest contributor, and will donate more than half of his fortune to the foundation over the next several years.

Airline CEOs with Innovative Leadership Qualities by Jeffrey Goldman of Chicago, Illinois

Innovative leadership qualities keep airlines flying high, even in troubled times. After 9/11, air travel suffered immeasurably. In the years since, the news has been full of airline woes, from cancelled flights and pilot strikes to bankruptcy. But there are two airline executives who make our list of CEOs to watch: Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines and Gerard Arpey of American Airlines.

Southwest Airlines Shines with Gary Kelly’s Top-Notch Leadership Qualities
Gary Kelly’s leadership qualities are simple: he shows respect for his employees and in turn, they respect him too. Southwest Airlines is known everywhere for its singing, laughing, fun flight attendants and pilots, and loyal customers think flying on the airline is a treat, not a chore. Kelly’s practical, warm personality and unparalleled leadership qualities are evident in every interview, as he openly discusses challenges faced by airlines and ways they can improve. Southwest Airlines is unique in the tumultuous airline industry- they have never laid off an employee, never had to cut salaries, and have been profitable every year since 1973.

The Leadership Qualities of American Airlines’ Arpey Saved the Day
The unique leadership qualities of Gerard Arpey, CEO of American Airlines, have helped him overcome many challenges. After 9/11, the airline almost went bankrupt. Amazingly, Arpey managed to show a net profit of $231 million five years later. Arpey’s “Turnaround Plan” for American Airlines, introduced in 2003, showed why he’s known for his leadership qualities. The plan highlights employee collaboration, improving customer service and streamlining airline operations as keys to the airline’s future success. Arpey started with American Airlines in 1982 as a financial analyst, making his way up through the company ranks until he landed as company CEO in 2003.

The Vision and Guts of a Real Entrepreneur: Jim Dimataris of WalletBe™
Jim Dimataris is a true success story. On his own dime, he traveled to QVC in Minneapolis years ago to present his uniquely designed Men’s Front Pocket wallet, a smart, compact and slim design contoured to accommodate lifestyle not bulk. QVC at the time was searching for new and unique products to sell on their TV channel. Out of hundreds of product ideas, Jim’s Front Pocket design was one of only a handful chosen and QVC subsequently made a large order. The story is not over there because Jim faced the challenge and risk of manufacturing those wallets and, more importantly, finding the capital to fund production.

In order to capitalize his venture, he found no alterntive but to mortgage his own home. But with high risk should follow a large reward… and Jim was rewarded. Once on QVC to market his wallets, he never looked back. Orders for them came in by the hundreds, then thousands. The demand for his wallets became so great that he didn’t want to have to wait for each Fall QVC appearance to sell them so with profits earned from the sale of his wallets on QVC, he designed and manufactured additional lines of Men’s wallets and then expanded into Women’s wallets with unique leather and crocodile inspired designs with vibrant colors, sizes and attachments. To-date, WalletBe™ has sold a wallet to 1 in 300 Americans and sales have increased year-over-year despite the challenges of this current slow economy. Over the past couple of years, WalletBe has ventured into other wallet niches: passport wallets, money belts, glasses, sunglasses, computer sleeves, keyFOBs, and business card holders. Jim is deserving of every success that finds him given the risk he took and his vision for designing marketable product lines in a mature market.

We thank our contributors:

  • Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York
  • Jeffrey Goldman of Chicago, Illinois

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