Jensen Huang, CEO of the U.S. technology company NVIDIA finished on top of the Harvard Business Review’s 2019 ranking of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the S&P Global 1200.
Huang, a Taiwanese immigrant who studied electrical engineering at Oregon State and Stanford, co-founded NVIDIA, in 1993. He initially led the company to focus on a single niche: building powerful computer chips to create graphics for fast-moving video games.
As the company went public in 1999 and grew through the 2000s, video games remained its core area of strenghth. Huang later chartered a different path for the company as NVIDIA began spending billions of dollars on R&D to create chips that would support artificial intelligence applications.
By the mid-2010s, NVIDIA’S AI-focused chips had come to dominate this fledgling market, showing up inside autonomous vehicles, robots, drone aircraft, and dozens of other high-tech tools.
Under Huang’s leadership, the company’s stock grew 14-fold from late 2015 to late 2018.
Marc Benioff of cloud based software company Salesforce and François-Henri Pinault of consumer good company Kering finished in second and third spot in the list.
The change in methodology this year resulted in Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos exiting out of the list. On the basis of financial performance alone, Bezos has been the top CEO every year since 2014. However, he failed to make this year’s list owing to Amazon’s relatively low ESG ( environmental, social, and governance) scores. The weightage for ESG was increased in this year’s study.
Four female CEOs made the ranking—Nancy McKinstry of Wolters Kluwer (#16), Lisa Su of Advanced Micro Devices (#26), Debra Cafaro of Ventas (#29), and Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin (#37)—up from three in 2018. The underrepresentation of women on the list reflects the overwhelming scarcity of women at the helm of public companies. Of the 876 companies whose CEOs were eligible for the list, just 34—or 4%—were led by female executives.
Two Indian origin CEOs finished among the top 10 in the HBR Study -Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, Ajay Banga of Mastercard and Satya Nadella Of Microsoft.
HBR also provided a detailed note on the methodology it used. To compile the ranking, HBR looked at CEOs of the S&P Global 1200 who’d been in the job for at least two years, and calculated overall shareholder return and increase in market capitalization over their entire tenure. S&P Global 1200 reflects 70% of the world’s stock market capitalization and includes firms in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Australia.
HBR also factored in ratings of ESG ( environmental, social, and governance) performance provided by two firms, CSRHub and Sustainalytics. This year HBR increased the weight given to ESG from 20% to 30% to reflect the fact that a rapidly growing number of funds and individuals now focus on far more than bottom-line metrics when they make investment decisions. The financial ranking was weighted at 70%
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