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Retailer tops list of world’s best-performing CEOs

For the second consecutive year, the chief executive of an apparel giant topped Harvard Business Review’s annual ranking of the 100 best-performing CEOs.

Pablo Isla, head of Spanish apparel retailer Inditex, best known for its flagship brand Zara, is No. 1 on the list, which is different from other leader rankings in that it measures performance for the entire length of a chief executive’s tenure. Isla has running Inditex since 2005. The other retailer to crack the top 10 was Bernard Arnault, head of luxury conglomerate LVMH.

To compile the list, HBR looked at CEOs of the S&P Global 1200 as of April 30, 2018, and calculated overall shareholder return and increase in market capitalization over their entire tenure. It also factored in ratings of corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance provided by two firms, CSRHub and Sustainalytics.

Other retailers that made the top 100 include Fast Retailing’s Tadashi Yanao, No. 35; Best Buy’s Hubert Joly, No. 45; Nordstrom’s Blake Nordstrom, No. 62; and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, No. 68. Real estate head David Simon, of Simon Property, was ranked No. 37.

Highlights from the ranking include:

• Information technology is the most highly represented industry, with 22 executives on the list;

• Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Debra Cafaro of Ventas, and Nancy McKinstry of Wolters Kluwer are the only women on the list, reflecting the very low female representation among the CEOs of global S&P 1200 companies;

• 34 CEOs on the list have an engineering degree and 32 have an MBA;

• On average, the individuals on the list became CEO at age 44 and have been in office 16 years; and

• 20 of the CEOs lead companies based outside their countries of birth.
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