These are the men who broke the business world mould. In fact they usually broke it several times, creating new ones and breaking them as well. The great business leaders, the ones who often find their way long before they are taken on after being spotted on a site such as exec-appointments.com are an amalgam of farseer, scientist, accountant and, yes, philanthropist – here are ten who have all of those qualities and much more.
Richard Branson – commercial space travel? True entrepreneurs don’t stop, and Branson is determined to realise his dream of taking lay people to the stars despite recent tragedy. A businessman with more than 400 businesses under the Virgin Umbrella, who somehow manages to deflect criticism and jealousy to remain universally popular.
Henry Ford – industry An innovator as much as a businessman, Ford’s genius was built on a burning desire to introduce the automobile to as many people as possible. A legendary capacity for spotting and nurturing young talent and incorporating new ideas into his work, he perfected assembly line production to the extent that it aided in creating machines crucial for World War II victory for the Allies.
Steve Jobs –Apple and more. Two upcoming movies concerning the life of the man whose many talents saw Apple, Pixar, NeXT and ipod should be interesting. The media has seized upon recent leaked Sony emails and what the movie industry thinks of Angelina Jolie, as graphically reported here by Defamer, but perhaps more interesting is the race to sign up actors for the lead role of Jobs. In an email to Leonardo di Caprio, agent Robert Newman tried to convince him by saying: “Steve Jobs was a man who came from nothing and nowhere to change the world as surely as Thomas Edison did.” Mark
Zuckerberg – Facebook A billionaire at just 23, Zuckerberg’s great gift to mankind might not be regarded in the same light as Ford’s or Branson’s, but Facebook has linked people across the world in an unimaginable way a decade ago. And similarly to Branson he’s not stopping there, with an ambitious bid to bring internet coverage to the entire planet according to this Time article.
John D Rockefeller – blending philanthropy and business Regarded as the richest man in history (adjusted for inflation) and at one point the controller of 90% of oil in the US, Rockefeller revolutionised the petroleum industry, founded two universities, created foundations that had a huge effect on medicine, education and science, and much more.
Robin Li – Baidu search engine We could have easily picked the guys behind Google. But it’s the creator of its Oriental equivalent who has thrived despite competing with its gigantic western counterpart while somehow gaining the support of the Chinese government – in exchange for acts of censorship, of course. Li’s passion for information search has created a multi-billion dollar company that has even recently opened an office on Google’s front doorstep in Silicon Valley.
Jeff Bezos – Amazon Bezos’ business career would probably have been impressive had he continued down the path of Wall Street and computer science. Instead he left his well-paid job and decided to set up an e-commerce business in his garage for the embryonic internet known as Amazon, after learning of a change in sales tax laws. A combination of skills, including an incredible attention to business detail and the creation of ‘predictive analytics’ enabled him to create a shop used by virtually everyone.
Sir Alex Ferguson – the first football brand Football is big business and no club exemplifies it like Manchester United, which even dropped the ‘football club’ from its badge. That success was created by the Glaswegian legend who built at least three great sides, acquiring playing staff wisely and judging when to jettison them with aplomb.
The Cadbury family – fair conditions for staff, and chocolate Is it cheating to include three people on one place? Father John and sons Richard and George are responsible for so much more than bestowing chocolate on the Victorian world. The Birmingham philanthropists keenly embraced technology and charity, and in 1895 the creation of the Bournville Modern Village became a template for fair conditions for workers.
Howard Schultz – coffee and consumerism Whether one loves an enjoyable fresh Starbucks coffee with friends and family, or sees it as a rampant symbol of consumerism in the 21st Century, few can deny its presence as a successful business. Schultz joined the small company as director of operations in 1982 but his inspiration blossomed during a trip to Italy where he saw the potential of espresso bars. He purchased Starbucks four years later and the rest was (pumpkin spiced) history.