Chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard
When the steely Midwesterner signed on to run Hewlett-Packard in 2005, the company was in the dumps. The board had fired his predecessor, the high-profile Carly Fiorina; morale was low; and the numbers were not looking good.
All that has changed. HP is back at the top of its game. In its most recent results, net earnings rose 28% on revenue growth of 15% - and the company is so bullish that it ordered an $8 billion buyback. The Silicon Valley stalwart has overtaken Dell as the leader in the personal computer market and is turning out innovative products, such as the video-conferencing system Halo. Oh, and its stock price has tripled under Hurd, who emerged pretty much unscathed by the boardroom pretexting scandal in 2006.
What does the chief executive have to say about all this? Precious little. Hurd, 50, avoids the limelight, but there is no doubt in anyone's mind who is piloting the ship. --Adam Lashinsky