Dan Akerson
Dan Akerson
Company: General Motors

Until Facebook overshadowed GM, the automaker could claim the biggest initial public offering in history. CEO Dan Akerson guided GM through its massive IPO, after the federal government asked him to take the reins from Ed Whitacre in 2010.

Some of GM's numbers look great: in 2011, the company posted a record profit of $9.2 billion, up by almost 50% from 2010, which is even more impressive given the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Besides, this past May was the best sales month for GM since the 2009 Cash for Clunkers program.

Despite its solid performance, the government still owns about a quarter of the company, and in a conversation with Fortune, Akerson said he wasn't quite sure when the government would fully sell off its stake. In the coming years, GM will face the same problem as its immediate competitors: how to sell automobiles to consumers struggling amid slow global economic growth.

By Shelley DuBois, writer-reporter @FortuneMagazine - Last updated June 18 2012: 3:57 PM ET
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