The pandemic has been one of the most testing times for leadership in recent decades, making those who led with influence and integrity some of the top CEOs in the world.
Of the 100 top CEOs in the US for 2021, just three are women.
Lynsi Snyder, CEO of In-N-Out Burger, was the highest ranked female executive in 20th position, followed by Abby Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investment, in 44th, then Tricia Griffith, CEO of Progressive Insurance, in 65th place.
Other notable leaders include Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce; Tim Cook, CEO of Apple; Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot; Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google; and Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications.
Top CEOs in the US
- Rich Lesser
- Shantanu Narayen
- Peter Pisters
- Gary C Kelly
- Alfred F Kelly Jr
- Satya Nadella
- Charles C Butt
- Ed Bastian
- Paul Cormier
- Horacio D Rozanski
With a 99 per cent approval rating, the CEO of Boston Consulting Group was named the top CEO for 2021 by employees.
Described as the ‘CEO Whisperer’ by The Wall Street Journal, Lesser has held the top position at the company since 2013.
The executive also serves as chief advisor to the World Economic Forum’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders and joined the then president-elect Donald Trump at a business forum in 2016, providing strategic advice on economic issues.
Through Lesser’s leadership, Boston Consulting Group has formed many partnerships including with the World Food Programme, Save the Children and the World Wild Fund for Nature.
Among the pros of the company listed on Glassdoor is ‘great work-life balance and opportunities’ and ‘great people who help you be the best version of yourself’.
Too much travelling, long working hours and high pressure were among some of its cons.
Closely following Lesser is the Adobe Systems Chair, President and CEO, who has been ranked second top CEO in the US.
With a reported net worth of US$250 million, Narayen joined Adobe in 1998 as Vice President and General Manager of its engineering technology group, only to become CEO in 2005.
The executive previously held product development roles at Apple before co-founding photo-sharing startup Pictra.
With a number of master’s degrees to his name as well as holding five patents, Narayen is currently a board member of Pfizer.
Named the third top CEO in the US, the MD Anderson Cancer Center President has held a number of leadership roles with the company for more than two decades.
The cancer surgeon, researcher, professor and hospital administrator first joined MD Anderson in 1994 as an assistant professor of surgery, working his way up to senior positions.
The seasoned executive is currently a member of more than 24 national organisations across the US.
Since 2004, Kelly has held the top job at Southwest Airlines as Chair and CEO.
Reportedly worth US$30 million, the Texas-born leader began his career at the company when he was 35 years old, moving through roles including controller, CFO and Vice President Finance.
Among the largest airlines in the country, Kelly is most proud of the fact Southwest Airlines has “never had a single layoff in the airline’s 50 year history”.
The CEO of Visa was ranked fifth top CEO for 2021 by employees.
Throughout Kelly Jr’s career, he’s held roles at the White House, PepsiCo and American Express before landing the role at Visa in 2016.
Just three years after his appointed, Kelly was elected as the company’s Chair of the Board.
Often lauded among the most iconic tech executives, it’s unsurprisingly to see Nadella named among the best CEOs in the US.
The CEO and Executive Chair of Microsoft has been at the Silicon Valley giant since 1992.
Responsible for leading a number of key projects including the company’s move to cloud computing, since taking over as Microsoft’s third CEO in 2014, its stock has increased by more than 150 per cent.
With a family net worth of US$10.7 billion in 2016, Butt’s inherited business is soaring.
At just eight years old, the leader started working at the family business that his grandmother started – popular Texas grocery chain H-E-B.
In 1971, Butt became CEO and, at 83 years old, is currently the majority shareholder of the privately held company that has more than 316 stores.
The CEO of Delta Air Lines is the second aviation executive to be named among the top CEOs for 2021.
Bastian has held the position since 2016, making him the airline’s ninth CEO.
With international travel one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, Bastian took a pay cut in 2020; however, he still pocketed a reported US$13.1 million.
Stepping into the CEO shoes at Red Hat in 2020 makes Cormier one of freshest executives to land among the top CEOs.
The engineer, who is also President of the IBM acquired company, has been at Red Hat for two decades.
Under his leadership, the product portfolio has expanded to offer a modern enterprise IT stack to disrupt the tech industry and it also became the industry’s first open source software company to achieve more than US$1 billion in revenue.
The Argentine-born US businessman is the President and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton.
Rozanski started his career at the company in 1991 as an intern, working his way up to the helm of the corporation in 2015.
The global technology and consulting company leader was awarded the Horatio Alger Award in 2020 – an accolade given to those who succeed in spite of adversity.