1. Zhang Ruimin
1. Zhang Ruimin
Position: Chief strategist

Currently: CEO, Haier Group

Zhang built the old Qingdao Refrigerator Factory from a failing maker of poor products into the world's largest appliance company, with $23 billion in revenue. He did it through unconventional but deft strategic moves: Instead of doing low-cost manufacturing for Western rivals, he decided to build Haier's brand; rather than copy other companies, he opened 10 R&D centers to develop Haier's own technology. Having conquered many global markets (and the dorm-fridge business), Zhang, 63, is now targeting Europe. This is a strategist you want on your team -- and not on your opponent's.

--G.C.


@FortuneMagazine - Last updated July 26 2012: 5:38 AM ET
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