Most Influential Business Leaders Today

Most Influential Business Leaders Today

In no particular order, I present to you the successful business leaders I consider most influential today.

Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit and one of the most influential business leaders today


Smith is the CEO of Intuit and one of the most successful business people in modern time. Intuit is one of the world’s largest and most successful financial software companies. More than 95 percent of Intuit revenue comes from activities within the U.S. Intuit core product, of course, is the QuickBooks accounting software that is ubiquitous to entrepreneurs. It is the financial software integrated with many company inventory management software. Intuit produced $4.7 billion in revenue for 2016 and has a market cap of about $20 billion.  As a leader, Smith has fostered a culture in which the company’s 7,900-plus employees are free to take risks. Intuit employees grow by learning from their failures, as well as from their success.

Brad D. Smith was born in Huntington, West Virginia, and grew up in the nearby town, Kenova. Smith attended Ceredo-Kenova High School and was an active part of his school’s athletic department. He played football until his sophomore year when he decided to take on studying martial arts. As a senior, Smith had earned his black belt. Smith has noted that his martial arts practice continues to impact his leadership to this day.

Smith spent one semester at the United States Military Academy at West Point before enrolling in Marshall University. In 1986, Smith received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing, from Marshall University.

Smith earned his master’s degree in management from Aquinas College in Michigan.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City – Oné of the most influential business leaders today

Musk has made marks in America that are influencing the lives of millions of people worldwide. Musk has stated that his goals for SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity.

He has contributed millions of dollars to charitable organizations and has launched several philanthropic projects. These include the Musk Foundation, which has contributed to hurricane and tsunami response, and the Future of Life Institute. Elon Reeve Musk ( born June 28, 1971) is a South African-born American business magnate, investor, engineer and inventor. He is the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; a co-founder, Series A investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-chairman of OpenAI; and founder and CEO of Neuralink. Musk is also a co-founder and former chairman of SolarCity, co-founder of Zip2. He is also the founder of, which merged with Confinity and took the name PayPal.

As of October 2017, Musk has an estimated net worth of $20.8 billion. He is ranking in the 2017 Forbes 400 as the 21st wealthiest person in America. He got listed in March 2016 by Forbes as the 80th-wealthiest person in the world. In December 2016, Musk got ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.

Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and one of the most influential women today

Forbes ranked Bill Gates as the seventh-most-powerful person in the world in 2014. He is also known as the richest person on the planet with a net worth estimated at $78.5 billion. Yet wealth has not negatively affected him or his wife. In her role as the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she has been instrumental in the pair’s mission to give away 95 percent of their wealth. From 2004 to 2010 she held a board post at the Washington Post. She has fulfilled a number of professional roles. Gates has increasingly pulled away from other business interests to increase the time she spends on her philanthropic work.

Melinda Ann Gates (née French; born August 15, 1964), DBE is the second of four children to Raymond Joseph French Jr., and Elaine Agnes Amerland. French has an older sister and two younger brothers. French, a Roman Catholic, attended St. Monica Catholic School, where she was the top student in her class year.

She graduated as valedictorian from Ursuline Academy of Dallas in 1982. Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986. She also earned an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1987. At Duke, French was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Beta Rho Chapter.

Gates is an American philanthropist, former Microsoft employee, and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She worked at Microsoft, where she was project manager for Microsoft Bob, Encarta and Expedia.

Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, Inc. and one of the most influential business leaders today

Larry Page is another example of a businessperson who can persevere through any challenge. It would not be possible for Google to have achieved the growth it has accomplished on intellect alone. Page’s values as an ethical leader influenced Google’s growth. Page has been a great example of supportive leadership to his team. Page has a “don’t be evil” approach to about the customers and market the company serves. Even in the midst of media and market criticism, he has never allowed the opinions of others to sway him.

Lawrence Page (born March 26, 1973) is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin.

Page is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. He stepped aside as Google CEO in August 2001, in favor of Eric Schmidt. Page re-assumed the CEO role at Google in April 2011. He announced his intention to step aside a second time in July 2015 to become CEO of Alphabet. Google’s assets reorganized under Alphabet. Under Page, Alphabet is seeking to deliver major advancements in a variety of industries.

As of October 2017, Page is the 12th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$47 billion. Page is the inventor of PageRank, Google’s best-known search ranking algorithm. Page received the Marconi Prize in 2004.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple and one of the most influential business leaders today

Steve Jobs is a hard act to follow, but thus far, Tim Cook is doing a tremendous job. Rather than attempt to match the consumer-facing innovations, Cook is forging the future with his own new advances. Once misdiagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, he has become much more responsible with the challenges of his employees. He has become highly involved in charitable causes. One of his famous quotes is  “you kind of want to manage a technology company like you’re in the dairy business. If it gets past its freshness date, you have a problem.” He has definitely been instrumental in keeping Apple’s consumer products vibrant and up to date.

Timothy Donald Cook (born November 1, 1960) is an American business executive, industrial engineer, and developer. Cook is the CEO of Apple Inc., previously serving as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, under its founder Steve Jobs.

Cook joined Apple in March 1998 as senior vice president of worldwide operations. He then served as Executive Vice President of worldwide sales and operations. He became the Chief Executive on August 24, 2011 following Jobs’ death. During his tenure as the Chief Executive he has advocated for the political reformation of international and domestic surveillance, cybersecurity, corporate taxation both nationally and abroad, American manufacturing, and environmental preservation.

In 2014, Cook became the first Chief Executive of a Fortune 500 company to publicly identify as gay. Cook also serves on the boards of directors of Nike, Inc. the National Football Foundation, and is a trustee of Duke University. In early 2012, he get awarded compensation of one million shares, vesting in 2016 and 2021, by Apple’s board of directors, and in March 2015, he said he planned to give his entire stock fortune to charity.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn and one of the most influential business leaders today

As CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner has taken great pride in the culture of the company. He has grown LinkedIn to more than 400 million users. LinkedIn has now been acquired by Microsoft in a deal worth $26 billion. Weiner’s values define his strategy in leadership. By opening the LinkedIn platform to long-form publishing in 2014, he has also created the means for many more entrepreneurs to become writers and authors.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Weiner (born February 21, 1970) is an American business person. Weiner graduated from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

Weiner served in various business leadership roles at Yahoo for over seven years beginning in 2001, most recently as the EVP of Yahoo’s Network Division. As EVP of Yahoo, he led a team of over 3,000 employees, managing products reaching over 500 million consumers. While serving Yahoo’s Network Division, he was part of the Search leadership team. The Search leadership team he a was a part of, directed the acquisition and integration of Inktomi, AltaVista, and FAST.

He started with LinkedIn on December 15, 2008, as Interim President.

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and one of the most influential business leaders today

Referred to as the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett is the CEO of diversified holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. He held Number 2 place on the Forbes 400 list for 15 years running until he was finally unseated in 2016 by Jeff Bezos. In July 2016 he gave away $2.9 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and his families’ foundations, making him one of the world’s most prolific philanthropists. He is known for continuing to live in the home in Omaha that he purchased for $31,500 in 1958.

Warren Edward Buffett (born August 30, 1930) is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. Some consider him to be one of the most successful investors in the world. As of August 2017 is the second wealthiest person in the United States. He is also the fourth wealthiest in the world, with a total net worth of $81.1 billion.

Born in Omaha, Buffett developed an interest in business and investing in his youth, eventually entering the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1947 before transferring and graduating from University of Nebraska–Lincoln at the age of 19. Buffett went on to enroll and graduate from Columbia University where he learned and eventually molded his investment philosophy around a concept pioneered by Benjamin Graham–value investing. He attended New York Institute of Finance to specialize his economics background and soon after began various business partnerships, including one with Graham. After meeting Charlie Munger, Buffett created the Buffett Partnership. His firm would eventually acquire a textile manufacturing firm called Berkshire Hathaway and assume its name to create a diversified holding company.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors and one of the most powerful women in business today

General Motors CEO Mary Barra Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at the GM Renaissance Center Global Headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)

In early 2016, Mary Barra, the first woman CEO of GM. GM is one of several beleaguered auto manufacturers that suffered heavy losses during the Great Recession in 2009-2010, had made such great strides in the company’s recovery that she became Chairman of the company as well. Recently forced to cut 2,000 jobs due to slowing demand for two GM models, the company turned around and announced it will invest $900 million to gear up for new job creation at three U.S. plants. Most recently, Barra is a member of President Donald Trump’s Policy Advisory team to guide him on policies for more job creation, economic growth and productivity.

Mary Teresa Barra (née Makela; born December 24, 1961) has held the General Motors Company CEO post since January 15, 2014, and she is the first female CEO of a major global automaker. On December 10, 2013, GM named her to succeed Dan Akerson as Chief Executive Officer, and before that, Barra served as the Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain at General Motors.

Barra was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Her father, Ray Mäkela, worked as a die maker at Pontiac for 39 years. Barra’s parents are of Finnish descent. Barra attended Waterford schools in Waterford, Michigan. She is a graduate of Waterford Mott High School.

Barra graduated from the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. She then attended Stanford Graduate School of Business on a GM fellowship, receiving her Masters in Business Administration degree in 1990.

Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard and one of the most influential business leaders today

Cara Carleton “Carly” Fiorina (née Sneed; born September 6, 1954) climbed the ranks as an executive at AT&T and then Lucent Technologies, Inc. before becoming CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 1999. As the first woman to lead a top 20 company, Fiorina oversaw HP’s massive merger with Compaq, which was one of the largest tech mergers in history, according to Forbes. The transaction made HP the world’s largest seller of personal computers. HP then laid off 30,000 U.S. employees to save 80,000 jobs. The company then grew to 150,000. She got forced to resign as CEO and Chair following a boardroom disagreement in February 2005. She then served as Chair of the philanthropic organization Good360.

Fiorina has now moved on to politics. She demonstrated the ability to handle harsh criticism with grace as she participated in the early stages of the recent presidential election.

Fiorina was an adviser to Republican Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2010, she won the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in California, but lost the general election to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. Fiorina was a candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. She was  the vice-presidential running mate of Ted Cruz for seven days until he suspended his campaign, setting the record for shortest vice presidential candidacy in modern US history.

Fiorina ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate in 2010 and the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation and one of the most influential business leaders today

Rupert Murdoch is a self-made and hard-driven Australia-born founder, chair and CEO of News Corporation. He continues to work unbelievably hard at an age when most would have retired long ago.

Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC KCSG (born 11 March 1931) is an Australian-born American media mogul. His father, Sir Keith Murdoch, had been a reporter, editor, and senior executive of the Herald and Weekly Times newspaper publishing company, covering all Australian states except New South Wales. After his father’s death in 1952, Murdoch declined to join his late father’s registered public company.  He created his own private company, News Limited. Murdoch thus had full control as Chairman and CEO of global media holding company News Corporation, now the world’s second-largest media conglomerate, and its successors, News Corp and 21st Century Fox, after the conglomerate split on 28 June 2013.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Murdoch acquired a number of newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, before expanding into the United Kingdom in 1969, taking over the News of the World, followed closely by The Sun. Murdoch moved to New York City in 1974, to expand into the U.S. market; however, he retained interests in Australia and Britain. In 1981, Murdoch bought The Times, his first British broadsheet, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen (and as a result, gave up Australian citizenship) in 1985 to satisfy the law for U.S. television ownership.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and one of the most influential business leaders today

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (born May 14, 1984) is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of Facebook. Zuckerberg now operates as Facebook’s chair and chief executive officer. He has an estimated net worth of US $74.2 billion as of November 2017. Forbes ranked him as the fifth richest person in the world in 2016.

Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard University dormitory room on February 4, 2004. College roommates and fellow Harvard students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes assisted Zuckerberg on Facebook. The group then introduced Facebook to other college campuses. Facebook expanded rapidly, reaching one billion users by 2012. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg got involved in various legal disputes brought by others in the group, who claimed a share of the company based upon their involvement during the development phase of Facebook.

In December 2012, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced that over the course of their lives they would give most of their wealth to “advancing human potential and promoting equality” in the spirit of The Giving Pledge. On December 1, 2015, they announced they would eventually give 99 percent of their Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Since 2010, Time magazine has named Zuckerberg among the 100 wealthiest and most influential people in the world. In December 2016, Forbes ranked Zuckerberg 10th on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.

Michael Dell, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Dell Technologies and one of the most influential business leaders today

Michael Saul Dell (born February 23, 1965) is an American business person, investor, philanthropist, and author. He is the founder and CEO of Dell Technologies. Dell is one of the world’s largest technology infrastructure companies. Forbes ranked Michael Dell as the 37th richest person in the world. He has a net worth of US$20.8 billion as of February 2017.

In 2011, his 243.35 million shares of Dell Inc. stock were worth $3.5 billion, giving him 12% ownership of the company. MSD Capital, a firm whose name incorporates Dell’s initials manages his remaining wealth of roughly $10 billion and has invested in other companies. On January 5, 2013, an announcement said that Michael Dell had bid to take Dell Inc. private for $24.4 billion in the biggest management buyout since the Great Recession. Dell Inc. officially went private on October 29, 2013.

On October 12, 2015, Dell Inc. announced its intent to acquire the enterprise software and storage company EMC Corporation. At $67 billion, it is the “highest-valued tech acquisition in history”. In September 7, 2016 the acquisition closed.

Who are your own examples of the most influential in the business world today? I look forward to hearing your additions and feedback to my selections in the comment section below.

About Nathaniel Moikabi

Nathaniel Moikabi is a blogger and a tech professional with 9 years of experience in the high-powered world of writing, marketing and technology. Moikabi is on a mission to help everyday entrepreneurs build sustainable business, stop stressing about their marketing, and start living the life they’ve always wanted.

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