How did Ed Whitacre save GM Motors in 10 months is an inspiring fable for people who aspire to be successful CEOs. It goes like this. Edward E. Whitacre Jr, son of a railroad engineer and wife, the six-foot-four-inch native Texan known by friends and colleagues as “Big Ed,” had retired from AT&T as its CEO in 2007. After a couple of years, Ed Whitacre was appointed as the Chairman of General Motors, with the massive task of turning around the company following its bankruptcy and government bailout. He had to act quickly, and he did exactly that. Big Ed would dismiss the automaker’s former chief executive after just eight months on the job, saying GM wasn’t moving fast enough. He then took over as GM’s CEO and immediately transformed the automaker into a modern company that could compete in both the US and world markets. In just 16 months following Whitacre’s arrival, GM launched the largest IPO in history at USD 23.1 billion.
The story of Big Ed is one of the many celebrated tales in the business world. There are many more, told and untold, waiting to be discovered. In fact, CEOs have always been under watchful eyes, as it is the most powerful and sought-after title in business, more exciting, rewarding, and influential than any other. Statically, the CEO accounts for 45 percent of a company’s performance. Researchers say that just three in five newly appointed CEOs live up to performance expectations in their first 18 months on the job. Since there are no specific winning formulae that a CEO can follow blindly, the so-called successful CEOs do not necessarily make reliable guides.
To understand what makes CEOs successful, we have up with a special issue featuring the ‘10 Most Influential CEOs in 2022.’ In their role, they have gone beyond the conventions of setting the strategy, shaping the culture, and getting the right team, to make great decisions in a volatile environment. On the cover, we feature Mr. Paul H. Jones, the CEO of Bitrez. By remaining active in the business and leadership, Mr. Paul drives the strategy of 3 cutting edge businesses, ensuring financial security, and articulating a vision of regulatory compliance, green chemistry, and improved performance, delivering both health and environmental benefits by using his technical skills, management, and leadership.