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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

Fortune “40 Under 40” Show a Bright Future for America’s Emerging Leaders

Fortune magazine is out with its annual “40 Under 40” list of business leaders and superstars. Reading through their bios gives great hope for the leadership we can anticipate from the next generation. All forty of these leaders are passionate about their work, deeply engaged in it, and most important of all, committed to making a difference in the world.

Familiar names like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (#1), Google founders Larry Page (#2) and Sergey Brin, and Tony Hsieh of Zappos dot the list. But a deeper dive reveals some of the most interesting leaders of the new generation. Let’s take a deeper look at some of them:

  • Aditya Mittal (#4) may have a famous father, Lakshmi Mittal, but he is a genuine star in his own right. Aditya has been CFO of AcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel company, for a number of years and he personally led the complex merger between French producer Acelor and U.K.-based Mittal. In spite of the pressures of his work, he is equally committed to his children and his wife’s career.
  • Daniel Ammann (#7) is the CFO of General Motors who has led GM back to profitability, financial stability, and competitive labor agreements with the UAW. The latter will enable GM to get a lot closer to being competitive on a global scale and bring small car production back to Michigan – and they said it couldn’t be done!
  • The entire George family is thrilled that our son Jeffrey made the list at #9. Thanks to Novartis leaders Dan Vasella and Joe Jimenez, he was given a remarkable opportunity three years ago to lead the turnaround of its generics drug subsidiary, Sandoz. Now the second largest generics company in the world, Sandoz has grown in double digits each of the last three years.
  • Kevin Plank (#12) is a superstar who founded Under Armour and has built it into a remarkably successful sportswear company. Its fashion-forward apparel are the rage of the younger generation and it’s is rapidly growing among the older set as well.
  • Cesar Conde (#14) is president of Univision Networks, the leading Spanish language television network in the U.S. Cesar’s mother fled Cuba after the Castro revolution. In 2007 we interviewed Cesar for True North where he noted in reference to his employees, “It is motivating to realize I have the opportunity to do something great for other people.” Cesar is a caring and compassionate leader who heads the most rapidly growing cable network.
  • Michael Hasenstab (#15) runs one of the world’s largest hedge funds for Franklin Templeton, where he manages $60 billion and has achieved double digit gains with contrarian bets. Coincidentally, he went to Carleton with our son Jeff, where they were both international relations majors who led Carleton’s very successful Model UN team.
  • Marissa Mayer (#20) is a superstar at Google where she led the creation of breakthroughs like Google Earth and Google Maps. Currently, she is spearheading the integration of Zagat, Google’s most recent acquisition.
  • Libby Wadle (#23) is executive vice president of J. Crew, where she built its outlet division and is currently running its retail and direct-sales operations. That puts her in line to succeed CEO Mickey Drexler.
  • Charles Best (#31) founded Donors Choose, a rapidly growing non-profit that has raised $90 for public school classrooms in the past decade. His creative funding model is bringing in tens of thousands of new donors to the philanthropy world.
  • Erin Burnett (#33) is the rapidly rising star of the cable world. She led CNBC’s very successful early morning show, “Squawk Box,” where she interviewed me numerous times. The depth of her questions reflected a probing intellect and thoughtful insights that went well beyond the obvious conclusions. Now she has joined CNN, where she has her own primetime show. Look for more great things in the future from Erin.
  • Carolyn Everson (#35) is leading Facebook’s initiatives in creating partnerships with name brands and advertising agencies – the backbone of Facebook’s revenues that has created its market value of more than $50 billion. She and COO Sheryl Sandberg form an awesome team whose efforts make Mark Zuckerberg (#1) not only look good but remarkably wealthy, on paper at least.