San Francisco: Microsoft’s India-born CEO Satya Nadella has grabbed the top spot in Fortune’s “Businessperson of the Year 2019” list. Other Indian-origin CEOs in the Top 20 list are Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga (8th spot) and Santa Clara, California-based computer networking company Arista’s head Jayshree Ullal (18th position).
Fortune’s annual list features 20 business leaders “who tackled audacious goals, overcame impossible odds, found creative solutions”.
“Key to his leadership style is a willingness to delegate, particularly to three powerful members of his management team: president Brad Smith, who runs policy and legal affairs; Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer; and chief people officer Kathleen Hogan. Each cuts a wide swath in areas many CEOs call their own, a state of affairs that suits Nadella just fine,” the news magazine reported.
Nadella took over as Microsoft CEO from Steve Ballmer in 2014.
According to the company’s independent directors, “Nadella’s strategic leadership, including his efforts to strengthen trust with customers, drive for a company-wide culture change, and successful entry and expansion into new technologies and markets”.
Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft is unstoppable. The recent $10 billion Pentagon Cloud contract win over Amazon Web Services (AWS) is tantamount to the fact that Nadella is hell-bent to make Microsoft the best tech company in the world.
For its entire fiscal year 2019, Microsoft reported revenue of $125.8 billion which increased 14 per cent and $39.2 billion net income — setting a new record fiscal year for the company.
Microsoft that continues to be valued as a $1 trillion company returned $7.7 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019.
In the Fortune’s list, Elizabeth Gains, CEO of Perth-based Fortescue Metals Group was at the second spot, followed by CEO of Chipotle Mexican, Brian Niccol.
“In a year dominated by political chaos and bluster, it was a rare brand of steady — even quiet — leadership that won the day in the business world. And no one epitomises that brand of obsessively results-driven, team-based leadership more than our new No. 1 Businessperson of the Year,” Fortune said.
Fortune said Nadella, a computer scientist, was “neither a founder like Bill Gates, nor a big-personality sales leader like his predecessor, Steve Ballmer when he was named the “surprise choice” to lead the Microsoft in 2014.
Nadella was also listed among the top 10 best-performing chief executives in the world in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) list in October.
Ullal who joined Arista from Cisco in 2008, has turned the company into a specialized market leader in Ethernet switches and open-source cloud software.
In 2018, its operating margin reached 31.5 per cent, eclipsing Cisco’s 28 per cent, said the report.