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The 10 Most Influential CEOs

Our look at corporate titans who have been game changers in business and culture.

Say what you will about their controversial personal histories, these 10 corporate leaders have proven themselves individualistic in their approach, astoundingly successful in business, and masters at setting cultural trends despite their non-conformist methods.

Our list, The 10 Most Influential CEOs, includes mavericks like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, two competing computer giants who have both become cultural iconoclasts; John Mackey, the “right-wing” hippie behind Whole Foods (WFMI) who doesn’t believe that climate change exists; Oprah Winfrey, a dynamo who built her Harpo Productions empire by blasting through social norms; and Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) young chief who has dramatically improved access to drugs in poor nations and encouraged other Big Pharma companies to follow suit.

Read more about the lives of these leaders and others, below.

Richard Branson
Virgin’s Richard Branson Expands His Orbit
The iconoclast who started by selling record “cut-outs” now pushes biofuels and space tourism.
By Justin Rohrlich
Mike Duke
  • © PRNewsFoto/Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Walmart's Mike Duke Grows a Greener Operation
Some call it a PR move, but the head of the world's largest retailer says he will put the earth first.
By Diane Bullock
Indra Nooyi
  • © World Economic Forum/
PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi Pushes for People Power, Diversity
The Indian-born leader is known for hiring from all walks of life and inspiring staff with her infectious spirit.
By Diane Bullock
Bill Gates
  • © PRNewsFoto/Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Microsoft's Bill Gates Redefines "The Second Act"
His philanthropic foundation targets "problems the world wants to solve."
By Megan Barnett
Steve Jobs
  • © Photo by acaben
Apple's Steve Jobs Embraces His Inner Control Freak
Motivated executives-turned-Machiavellian tyrants owe a debt of gratitude to this CEO.
By Mike Schuster
John Mackey
  • © Whole Foods Market IP, L.P.
Whole Foods' John Mackey Resists Conventional Label
A non-believer in climate change or universal health care, he still owns "organic" with a blockbuster shop.
By Justin Rohrlich
Andrew Witty
  • © GlaxoSmithKline
GSK's Andrew Witty Gets Medicine to World's Poorest
The Big Pharma head has influenced other drugmakers to follow his lead in making drugs affordable where they're most needed.
By Lisa LaMotta
John Mack
  • © AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson
Morgan Stanley's John Mack Rejects Bonus, Sets Trend
The banker established a new tone on Wall Street, even if pay remains a hot-button issue.
By Ryan Goldberg
  • © Photo Bill Ebbesen
Oprah Winfrey Adds Cause to Clout
The talk-show host and Harpo CEO has made free and open speech a best-selling product.
By Lila MacLellan
Bob Iger
  • © Eric Charbonneau/ PRNewsFoto
Disney's Bob Iger Resists "Legacy" Baggage
The media chief has proven to be a tough, stubborn negotiator unburdened by Disney's fairy tale history.
By Ryan Goldberg
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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