The 25 best-performing CEOs in the world, according to the Harvard Business Review


howard schultz

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is the No. 12 best-performing CEO on the planet, according to Harvard Business Review.

The Harvard Business Review has released its list of the 100 best-performing CEOs on the planet. Lars Rebien Sørensen, CEO of Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk, tops the list.


To compile the ranking, HBR considered total shareholder return and the change in each company's market capitalization. This year, HBR also added a measurement of each company's environmental, social, and governance performance (using ESG scores from investment research firm Sustainalytics). Ultimately, long-term financial results were weighted at 80% and ESG performance at 20% for each CEO/company.

Sørensen comes in at No. 1 in part due to Novo Nordisk's high ESG rating. According to Sustainalytics and HBR, "the company benefits from, among other things, its decision to offer insulin at a steep discount to consumers in developing countries; its transparent and limited political lobbying practices; and its responsible policy on animal testing."

Notably absent from the top is Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, last year's No. 1 CEO, who fell a whopping 87 spots this year due to the addition of the ESG measure.

HBR also notes that ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned amid the emissions scandal as the list was going to press, is ranked No. 20 based on the company's financial data through April 30 and a strong ESG score that has since been downgraded by Sustainalytics.


Some fascinating trends emerged this year. MBAs are still a badge of honor, but decreasingly so - 26 of the top 100 CEOs have the degree, compared to 29 last year. The top CEOs are in consumer goods, healthcare, and financial services. And diversity remains a problem: Only two of the top 100 are women.

Here are the top 25 most effective CEOs, according to HBR:

1. Lars Rebien Sørensen of Novo Nordisk

2. John Chambers of Cisco Systems

3. Pablo Isla of Inditex


4. Elmar Degenhart of Continental

5. Martin Sorrell of WPP

6. Stephen Luzco of Seagate Technology

7. Jon Fredrik Baksaas of Telenor

8. George Scangos of Biogen


9. Michael Wolf of Swedbank

10. Fujio Mitarai of Canon

11. Leslie Wexner of L Brands

12. Howard Schultz of Starbucks

13. Florentino Pèrez Rodrìguez of Acs


14. Jacques Aschenbroich of Valeo

15. Benoit Potier of Air Liquide

16. Carlos Brito of Anheuser-Busch InBev

17. Lars Rasmussen of Coloplast

18. Kasper Rorsted of Henkel


19. Alexander Cutler of Eaton

20. Martin Winterkorn of Volkswagen (now resigned)

21. Mark Parker of Nike

22. Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management

23. Johan Thijs of KBC


24. Roberto Egydio Setubal of Itaù Unibanco

25. Laurence Douglas Fink of Blackrock

Check out the full list here.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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