Rated Ranking: Barron‘s World‘s Best CEOs 2015


Barron‘s World‘s Best CEOs 2015


Barron’s – one of the most renowned investors magazines – has published its ranking of the “World’s Best CEOs”. The magazine admits not to “have a precise formula for constructing the list – it reflects the collective wisdom of our editors and writers.” Only CEOs with at least five years in their position are eligible to enter the list. In the 10 years since Barron’s launched the list, corporate boards have increasingly come under fire. The credit crisis, volatile energy prices, and disruptive technologies turned the decade into something of a CEO killer. Of the 30 CEOs listed in the first edition ten years ago, seven have kept their jobs and only two remain in the list: Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and Michael O’Leary of Ryanair Holdings. The 30 CEOs listed come from all parts of the globe. Twenty of the companies they run are U.S.-based; five are based in Europe, and five are Asian.

Seven CEOs have been added to the list this year: Robert Iger of Walt Disney, Joseph Jimenez at Novartis, Macy’s Terry Lundgren, Sergio Marchionne at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Larry Merlo at CVS Health, Under Armour ’s Kevin Plank, and Aditya Puri, managing director of India-based HDFC Bank. Eight CEOs have been removed, making way for new faces. They are Amazon.com ’s Jeffrey Bezos, Mark Donegan at Precision Castparts, Hugh Grant at Monsanto, Nick Hayek of Swatch Group, CBS’ head Leslie Moonves, Ford Motor ’s Alan Mulally, Norbert Reithofer of BMW, and Lars Rebien Sørensen at Novo Nordisk.

While on the one hand this ranking provides an interesting perspective on the performance of CEOs, its methodology is merely based on the personal views of Barron’s editorial team and writers – and therefore highly subjective and non-transparent. The fact that the vast majority of the CEOs in this “global” ranking are US-Americans shows that their might also be an ethnocentric halo effect included.

Summarizing, Barron’s’ “World’s Best CEOs” is a useful ranking to get a snapshot of successful CEOs (and their well-performing firms). But caution is necessary: The CEOs listed are nothing more than a subjective recommendation – and they do not provide any reference how exactly they got there. Due to the long history and consistency of the ranking, comparisons and developments over time are possible – which is a significant advantage for interested readers.

Unfortunately, the full list and the corresponding article are only available for subscribers.

Relevance / Impact
– 11 points –
Added Value / Insights
– 11 points –

Trustworthiness / Intention
– 13 points –
– 3 points –

Aggregated points
– 38 (out of 60) –
Highly valuable ranking

Useful ranking with some flaws

Partially useful ranking with considerable flaws

< 30
Useless ranking

Reach of publication:

  • Global, e.g. North America, Europe and Asia (5 points)
  • Regional, e.g. Europe or North America (3 points)
  • Large national market: e.g. US, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil (2 points)
  • Mid-sized or small market, e.g. Switzerland, Netherlands, Argentina, Singapore (1 point)

Ranking will be recognized by key stakeholders:

  • Opinion Leaders (Politicians, Professors; NGO’s) (2 points)
  • Business Advisory Board, C-Level Executives (CEO, CCO, CFO, CMO) (2 points)
  • High Potentials & Top Talents (employer market, students) (2 points)
  • Financial Market (2 points)
  • General Public (2 points)

Aggregated points: 11 (of max. 15)

Is the owner providing the ranking a credible and trustworthy organization?

  • Ranking owner has limited credibility and reputation. (1 point)
  • Ranking owner has fair credibility and reputation. (3 points)
  • Ranking owner has excellent credibility and reputation. (5 points)

What is the ranking owner’s intention to produce and disseminate the ranking?

  • Ranking is predominantly a tool to raise awareness for the owner with the possible intention to sell consultancy services. (1 point)
  • Ranking is partly a tool to raise awareness for the owner with the possible intention to sell consultancy services. (3 points)
  • Ranking is predominantly a tool to surface and share important insights on the subject surveyed. (5 points)

Is/Are the media outlet(s) where the ranking is published of high credibility and reputation?

  • Media outlet(s) has/have limited credibility and reputation. (1 point)
  • Media outlet(s) has/have fair credibility and reputation. (3 points)
  • Media outlet(s) has/have excellent credibility and reputation. (5 points)

Aggregated points: 13 (of max. 15)

Do the ranking results provide overall orientation where companies stand?

  • limited orientation only (1 point)
  • fair orientation provided (3 points)
  • very good orientation (5 points)

Is the Ranking published in the same format on a regular basis, e.g. annually, which allows to track developments and comparisons over time?

  • ranking is published for the first time (1 point)
  • ranking is published for the second time in the same format (3 points)
  • ranking is published for more than 3 times on a regular basis in the same format (5 points)

Comment: Ranking is published for the 11th time in a row.

Do the ranking results provide added value and further insights on how companies are evaluated in in their industry, e.g. detailed ratings in various sub-dimensions of the overall result?

  • limited added value only (1 point)
  • fair amount of added value (3 points)
  • high amount of added value (5 points)

Aggregated points: 11 (of max. 15)

Is the ranking based on a representative survey among key stakeholders or on a jury only?

  • Ranking is based on a jury’s opinion only. (1 point)
  • Ranking is based on a small survey or only on a limited group of stakeholders. (3 points)
  • Ranking is based on a robust and representative survey. (5 points)

Comment: According to Barron‘s, there is no fixed methodology but the list „reflects the collective wisdom of our editors and writers“.

Is the ranking methodology easy to understand and reasonable – even for non-statisticians?

  • Methodology not easy to understand and not reasonable. (1 point)
  • Methodology fairly good to understand and reasonable. (3 points)
  • Methodology very easy to understand and reasonable. (5 points)

Comment: Methodology not explained at all.

Is the ranking methodology easy to access and transparent?

  • Methodology not easy to find and not sufficiently transparent. (1 point)
  • Methodology fairly good to find and of medium transparency. (3 points)
  • Methodology very easy to find and of high transparency. (5 points)

Comments: Comment: Methodology is only mentioned in print and online article, which are only accessible for subscribers.

Aggregated points: 3 (of max. 15)

Ranking category

  • Product / Service Brands
  • Company Brands
  • Corporate Reputation and Company Esteem
  • Social Responsibility, CSR & Sustainability, Ethical Business Practices
  • Innovation & Technology
  • Employer Attractiveness & Diversity
  • Leadership
  • Nations & Destinations
  • University & Other Institutions
  • Sports
  • Lifestyle
  • Social Media
  • Personal Branding & CEOs

Ranking statistics

  • Name of Ranking: Barron‘s World‘s Best CEOs 2015
  • Ranking managed/produced by institute/organization: Barron's Magazine
  • Ranking published by media outlet: Barron's Magazine
  • Date of recent publication: March 21, 2015
  • Date of previous publication: March 22, 2014

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