- The Fortune annual Businessperson of the Year list is of Fortune stars 20 business leaders “who pursued ambitious ambitions, defied daunting odds, sought creative solutions.
- Microsoft’s India-born Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella has held the top spot on the 2019 list of Fortune’s entrepreneur, an annual collection that also includes Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga and Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal.
Microsoft’s India-born Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella has held the top spot on the 2019 list of Fortune’s entrepreneur, an annual collection that also includes Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga and Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal.
The annual Businessperson of the Year list of Fortune stars 20 business leaders “who pursued ambitious ambitions, defied daunting odds, sought creative solutions.”
Nadella, who has been at the technology giant’s helm since 2014, tops the list.
“It was a rare brand of steady — even quiet — leadership that won the day in the business world in a year dominated by political chaos and bluster. And no one epitomizes that brand of obsessively results-driven, team-based leadership more than our new year’s No. 1 businessman,” Fortune said.
Banga ranks eighth, while Ullal ranks eighteenth in the list for which Fortune looked at 10 financial factors ranging from total shareholder returns to capital returns. Both of Indian origin are Banga and Ullal.
Fortune said computer scientist Nadella was “neither a founder like Bill Gates nor a leader in large-scale sales like his predecessor, Steve Ballmer when he was named the” surprise choice “to lead Microsoft in 2014.”
He had never worked in finance, another training ground for CEOs. And there was no such thing as his stature on the global stage. What’s more, having joined Microsoft in 1992, he was thoroughly steeped in a Microsoft dog-eat-dog culture that had contributed to the company’s stagnation, “Fortune said.”
Today, Nadella is wearing the gaps in his resume as comfortably as his corporate uniform jeans and blazers, “he said.
“The secret to his leadership style is his ability to delegate,” particularly to three members of his management team— Chairman Brad Smith, who oversees political and legal affairs; Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood of Microsoft and Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan.
“I’m wired to be pretty confident in myself and let others shine,” Nadella says Fortune. “Chefs can only do what they’re doing if they’ve got an amazing team. I’m grateful.”
On Banga, Fortune said, “Thanks in part to the vision of Banga,” Mastercard has emerged as a “poster child” for how legacy players can embrace and adapt to a rapidly evolving environment in financial services. “This year, the company has turned into a market lover, with its stock climbing more than 40% in 2019,” Fortune said Banga, who is a Sikh, was also an outspoken advocate of diversity in the workforce.
“We have to understand that diversity is a key component of success for any organization or even society to thrive. We have to surround ourselves with people who don’t look the same and have different experiences,” Fortune quoted Banga as saying.
Banga has been awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor last year in recognition of his achievements and advocacy. The award is presented annually to US citizens who, while exemplifying the values of the American way of life, have distinguished themselves within their ethnic groups.
Fortune said Ullal has turned Arista into a global market leader in Ethernet switches and open-source cloud technology since coming from giant rival Cisco in 2008.
His operating margin hit 31.5 percent in 2018, overshadowing 28 percent of Cisco.
“It’s impressive stuff from Ullal, an Indian-American born in London and raised in New Delhi,” Fortune said, adding that following an “underwhelming” fiscal results, analysts “maintain faith that Ullal has the track record and expertise to keep guiding Arista to new heights.”
The list also includes second-place CEO of Perth-based Fortescue Metals Group Elizabeth Gaines, 5th-place Puma CEO Bjorn Gulden, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon (10), Julie Sweet (15) CEO of Accenture and Daniel Zhang (16) CEO of Alibaba.