Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates
The Financial Times says that the new economy has finally triumphed over the old. For seven successive years, General Electric has topped the table of the world’s most respected companies. But for the first time, it has been pipped to the post by Microsoft, the software group.

The newspaper says that it is sweet revenge for Bill Gates’ company, which was stuck in second place in all the previous polls. The survey was conducted by Big 4 accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and it interviewed 954 chief executive officers across 25 countries between August and October. Key funds managers were also polled.

The FT says that the careers of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – ranked one and four respectively in the 2005 business leader list – seem destined to stay intertwined, the yin and yang of the personal computing business.

On the one hand is the calculating, domineering style that has made Microsoft by far the world’s most successful software company: on the other hand the daring and creativity that has made Apple Computer the most consistently imaginative maker of personal technology.

The tech market is in flux. Google's share price crossed the $400 line on Nasdaq on Nov 17th, giving it a value of $159 billion and Microsoft has acknowledged the challenge of delivery of software over the web for its cash cow software packages.

There are 24 American companies on the top 50 list. The hunger that America's billionaire tech titans show, illustrates the continued potency underpinning American innovation. The image of a raging Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer flinging furniture around his office on hearing that another senior manager was defecting to Google,  may not have presented a pretty image in court, but he can never be accused of resting on his laurels.


Name Country Sector
2 1 Microsoft US IT
1 2 General Electric US Electrical/Electronics
3 3 Toyota Japan Engineering
5 4 Coca-Cola US Food/Beverages
7 6 Wal-Mart US Retail
15 7 BP UK Energy/Chemicals
9 8 Proctor & Gamble US Consumer Goods
42 9 Apple Computer US IT
23 10 Siemens Germany Engineering
6 11 Dell US IT
47 12 Disney US Media/Leisure
12 13 Southwest Airlines US Transport
0 14 Starbucks US Food/Beverages
14 15 Johnson & Johnson US Healthcare
16 16 BMW Germany Engineering
36 17 L'Oréal France Consumer Goods
21 18 Sony Erisson Japan/Sweden Consumer Goods
17 19 Nestlé Switzerland Food/Beverages
19 20 Honda Japan Engineering
13 21 DaimlerChysler Germany Engineering
8 22 Citigroup US Financial
0 22 Porsche Germany Engineering
52 24 Airbus France/Germany/
26 25 Nokia Finland Electrical/Electronics
30 26 Ikea Sweden Retail
44 27 Virgin UK Transport
51 28 British Airways UK Transport
44 29 Nike US Consumer Goods
61 30 Cisco Systems US IT
38 31 Intel US IT
32 32 Samsung Korea Electrical/Electronics
67 33 Ryanair Ireland Transport
54 34 Volkswagen Germany Engineering
18 35 General Motors US Engineering
41 36 Exxon Mobil US Energy/Chemicals
22 37 Nissan Japan Engineering
27 38 McDonald's US Food/Beverages
58 39 Google US IT
34 40 Royal Dutch/Shell Netherlands/UK Energy/Chemicals
20 41 Berkshire Hathaway US Financial
49 42 BHP Billiton UK/Australia Resources
60 43 Tesco UK Retail
11 44 3M US Consumer Goods
27 45 HSBC UK Financial
10 46 Hewlett-Packard US IT
46 47 BASF Germany Energy/Chemicals
34 47 PriceWaterhouseCoopers US Financial
68 49 Novartis Switzerland Healthcare
39 50 Danone France Food/Beverages
Source: Financial Times/PricewaterhouseCoopers


Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary      Photo: Boeing

Ireland's Ryanair has moved from 67th rank in 2004 to 33rd place this year and Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary is among the top 20 world's most respected business leaders.

The UK's Guardian newspaper wrote in June 2005 about Michael O'Leary: "I don't give a shite if nobody likes me," he told one interviewer, stressing that he was a businessman through and through. "I am not a cloud bunny, I am not an aerosexual. I don't like aeroplanes. I never wanted to be a pilot like those other platoons of goons who populate the air industry."

Casual abuse is O'Leary's stock in trade. He has described the European commission as "morons", the airport operator BAA as "overcharging rapists". Britain's air traffic control service is "poxy", British Airways are "expensive bastards" and travel agents are "fuckers" who should be "taken out and shot".

Siobhán Creaton, author of an unauthorised history of Ryanair, believes O'Leary's middle-class background explains a lot: "He got the best education money could buy but a lot of his peers at school would have been the sons of people like [the newspaper magnate] Tony O'Reilly, who stood to inherit the family fortune. He had nothing much to take over from his family."

She sees his hectoring style as a throwback to his rural upbringing: "At heart, I suppose he's a farmer. He behaves, in some ways, like a farmer does when he's going to a market to sell his cattle."

In a 2002 answer to the question, what would make Ryanair fail, he answered: "Nuclear war in Europe, a major accident or believing our own bullshit."

Ireland should be proud of Michael O'Leary.

Some 90 percent of Irish exports are made by foreign-owned firms, and a State-funded report this week forecast that most foreign-owned manufacturing enterprises will have abandoned Ireland for low-cost locations by 2025.

What is striking about the Celtic Tiger in the current decade is that there has not been any addition to the small number of Irish-owned companies that have a recognised international presence. 

International and domestic property has been the focus of investment by private investors with generous funding provided by the banks.


Name Company Sector
1 1 Bill Gates Microsoft Founder IT
2 2 Jack Welch General Electric ex-CEO Electrical/Electronics
3 3 Carlos Ghosn Nissan/Renault Engineering
9 4 Steve Jobs  Apple Computer IT
13 5 John Browne BP Energy/Chemicals
5 6 Michael Dell  Dell IT
12 7 Richard Branson Virgin Transport
6 8 Hiroshi Okuda Toyota Former Chairman Engineering
4 9 Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway Financial
7 10 Jeffrey Immelt General Electric Engineering
14 11 Lindsay Owen-Jones L'Oréal Consumer Goods
26 12 Larry Ellison Oracle IT
38 13 Rupert Murdoch News Corporation Media/Leisure
11 14 Lee Iacocca DaimlerChysler ex-CEO Engineering
0 15 Dieter Zetsche Mercedes Engineering
0 16 Sam Walton Wal-Mart Founder Retail
27 17 Heinrich von Pierer Siemens IT
61 18 Michael O'Leary Ryanair Transport
0 19 Bernard Arnault LVMH Consumer Goods
0 20 Fujio Cho Toyota Engineering
37 21 Josef Ackermann Deutsche Bank Financial
43 22 Douglas Daft Coca-Cola ex-CEO Food/Beverages
34 22 Terry Leahy Tesco Retail
24 24 Carlos Slim Helu Telmex Telecoms
50 25 José Maria Castellanos Inditex(Zara) former VP Retail
0 26 Zhang Ruimin Haier - China's largest white goods company Consumer Goods
33 27 Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Retail
36 28 Narayana Murthy Infosys Technologies IT
0 29 Rod Eddington British Airways ex-CEO Transport
0 30 Henri de Castries AXA Financial
54 31 Carl-Henric Svanberg Sony Ericsson Consumer Goods
0 32 Wendelin Wiedeking Porsche Engineering
15 33 Lou Gerstner IBM Ex-CEO IT
34 33 Andy Grove Intel Engineering
40 35 Emilio Botin-Sanz Banco Sntander Financial
40 36 Fred Goodwin Royal Bank of Scotland Financial
45 37 Larry Page/Sergey Brin Google IT
49 37 Daniel Vasella Novartis Healthcare
59 37 Jeroen Van der Veer Royal Dutch Shell Energy/Chemicals
46 40 Ratan Tata Tata Group Industries Engineering
0 41 Brian Gilbertson BHP Billiton Resources
0 42 Chung Mong-Koo Hyundai Engineering
44 43 Peter Brabeck-Letmathe Nestlé Food/Beverages
18 43 Donald Trump Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts Media/Leisure
19 45 Luca di Montezemolo Ferrari Engineering
28 46 John Chambers Cisco Systems IT
21 47 Lee Kun-Hee Samsung Electrical/Electronics
0 48 Steven Ballmer Micrsoft CEO IT
0 48 Albert Frére Banque Brussels Lambert Financial
38 50 Jorma Ollila Nokia Electrical/Electronics
Source: Financial Times/PricewaterhouseCoopers


Name Description
1 Peter Drucker Legendary management visionary who died at 95, on Nov 11, 2005 - after completion of the survey.

Dr. Drucker once remarked that the reason why journalists used the word "guru" was that they could not spell the word “charlatan.”

"Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality."

A worthy tribute from John A. Byrne in BusinessWeek Magazine:

"The world knows he was the greatest management thinker of the last century," Jack Welch, former chairman of General Electric Co., said after Drucker's death.

"He was the creator and inventor of modern management," said management guru Tom Peters. "In the early 1950s, nobody had a tool kit to manage these incredibly complex organizations that had gone out of control. Drucker was the first person to give us a handbook for that."

Adds Intel Corp. co-founder Andrew S. Grove: "Like many philosophers, he spoke in plain language that resonated with ordinary managers. Consequently, simple statements from him have influenced untold numbers of daily actions; they did mine over decades."

The story of Peter Drucker is the story of management itself. It's the story of the rise of the modern corporation and the managers who organize work. Without his analysis it's almost impossible to imagine the rise of dispersed, globe-spanning corporations.

But it's also the story of Drucker's own rising disenchantment with capitalism in the late 20th century that seemed to reward greed as easily as it did performance. Drucker was sickened by the excessive riches awarded to mediocre executives even as they slashed the ranks of ordinary workers. And as he entered his 10th decade, there were some in corporations and academia who said his time had passed. Others said he grew sloppy with the facts. Meanwhile, new generations of management gurus and pundits, many of whom grew rich off books and speaking tours, superseded him. The doubt and disillusionment with business that Drucker expressed in his later years caused him to turn away from the corporation and instead offer his advice to the nonprofit sector. It seemed an acknowledgment that business and management had somehow failed him.

But Drucker's tale is not mere history. Whether it's recognized or not, the organization and practice of management today is derived largely from the thinking of Peter Drucker. His teachings form a blueprint for every thinking leader. In a world of quick fixes and glib explanations, a world of fads and simplistic PowerPoint lessons, he understood that the job of leading people and institutions is filled with complexity. He taught generations of managers the importance of picking the best people, of focusing on opportunities and not problems, of getting on the same side of the desk as your customer, of the need to understand your competitive advantages, and to continue to refine them. He believed that talented people were the essential ingredient of every successful enterprise.

Click for - Celebrated management visionary Peter Drucker dies at 95

2 Bill Gates Chairman and co-Founder Microsoft - intensely competitive but the model for a superbillionaire with a public persona, which  is the antithesis of the arrogance, that is so often the handmaiden of riches.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of approximately $28.8 billion and has provided billions of dollars for the funding of immunization programs in poor countries and research into diseases such as malaria that is not commercially attractive for Big Pharma.

From a Time Magazine profile in 1997:

When Bill Gates was in the sixth grade, his parents decided he needed counseling. He was at war with his mother Mary, an outgoing woman who harbored the belief that he should do what she told him. She would call him to dinner from his basement bedroom, which she had given up trying to make him clean, and he wouldn't respond. "What are you doing?" she once demanded over the intercom

"I'm thinking," he shouted back

"You're thinking?"

"Yes, Mom, I'm thinking," he said fiercely. "Have you ever tried thinking?"

The psychologist they sent him to "was a really cool guy," Gates recalls. "He gave me books to read after each session, Freud stuff, and I really got into psychology theory." After a year of sessions and a battery of tests, the counselor reached his conclusion. "You're going to lose," he told Mary. "You had better just adjust to it because there's no use trying to beat him." Mary was strong-willed and intelligent herself, her husband recalls, "but she came around to accepting that it was futile trying to compete with him."

3 Jack Welch Former Chairman GE - legendary leader of one of the world's great companies 1981-2001
4 Philip Kotler Professor, Kellogg School of Management. Professor Kotler is the author of: Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control, the most widely used marketing book in graduate business schools worldwide
5 Michael E Porter Professor, Harvard Business School. Dr. Porter, the author of 17 books and over 125 articles, is a leading authority on competitive strategy and the competitiveness and economic development of nations, states, and regions
6 Jim Collins Professor and author of the business bestseller Good to Great - analysis of how good companies become great
7 Richard Branson Founder Virgin UK and the man who made it cool to be in business in the UK
8 Warren Buffett CEO Berkshire Hathaway. The famed Oracle of Omaha who is America's most successful long-term investor.

From the 1996 letter to shareholders:

An observer might conclude from our hiring practices that Charlie and I were traumatized early in life by an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) bulletin on age discrimination. The real explanation, however, is self-interest: It's difficult to teach a new dog old tricks. The many Berkshire managers who are past 70, hit home runs today at the same pace that long ago gave them reputations as young slugging sensations. Therefore, to get a job with us, just employ the tactic of the 76-year-old who persuaded a dazzling beauty of 25 to marry him. "How did you ever get her to accept?" asked his envious contemporaries. The comeback: "I told her I was 86."

9 Tom Peters Co-author of the 1982 bestseller In Search of Excelllence.
10 Stephen Covey Dr. Covey is the author of several acclaimed books, including the bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It has sold more than 15 million copies in 38 languages throughout the world. Other bestsellers authored by Dr. Covey include First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, with sales exceeding one million, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families.He received the National Fatherhood Award in 2003, which, as the father of 9 and grandfather of 44, he says is the most meaningful award he has ever received.
11 CK Prahalad Professor, University of Michigan. His research specializes in corporate strategy and the role and value added of top management in large, diversified, multinational corporations.
12 Kenichi Ohmae Dr. Kenichi Ohmae according to the Financial Times, is "Japan's only management guru." In 1994, The Economist selected him as one of five management gurus in the world. As an author he has published over 100 books, many of which are devoted to business and socio-political analyses.
13 Gary Hamel Gary Hamel is founder and chairman of Strategos, a consulting firm focused on strategy innovation, and is a visiting professor at Harvard University.
14 Carlos Ghosn CEO Nissan/Renault. Time Magazine said in 2001: They said a foreign CEO could never survive the insular culture of Japanese business. Then this quintessential global leader—born in Brazil of Lebanese parents and educated in France—was dispatched by Renault to rescue its stake in Nissan.
15 Robert Kaplan Robert S. Kaplan is Baker Foundation Professor at the Harvard Business School. Kaplan joined the HBS faculty in 1984 after spending 16 years on the faculty of the business school at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he served as Dean from 1977 to 1983. Kaplan received a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T., and a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University. In 1994, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Stuttgart. Kaplan’s research, teaching, and consulting focus on linking cost and performance management systems to strategy implementation and operational excellence. He has been a co-developer of both activity-based costing and the Balanced Scorecard. He has authored or co-authored 12 books, 15 Harvard Business Review articles, and more than 120 other papers. Kaplan received the Telecom Italia "Prize for Leadership on Business and Economic Thinking" in December 2004. The Accenture Institute for Strategic Change named him, in 2002 and 2003, among the Top 50 Thinkers and Writers on Management Topics.
16 Peter Senge Peter Senge is a Senior Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also Founding Chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), a global community of corporations, researchers, and consultants committed “to increase our capacity to collectively realize our highest aspirations and productively resolve our differences” through the mutual development of people and institutions. The Journal of Business Strategy named him a “Strategist of the Century,” one of twenty-four men and women who have “had the greatest impact on the way we conduct business today” (September/October 1999). His special interest is on decentralizing the role of leadership in organizations so as to enhance the capacity of all people to work productively toward common goals. Senge's work places human values at the cornerstone of the workplace, proposing that vision, purpose, reflectiveness, and systems thinking are essential for organizations to realize their potentials.
17 Michael Hammer Dr. Hammer is the author of four books, including the best-seller "Reengineering the Corporation", the  business book that set off a frenzy in America to find an answer in the early 1990's to the relentless march of the Japanese industrial juggernaut. Remember that??
18 Steve Jobs Apple Computer Co-Founder. For long, the decision in the 1970s not to license its operating system, was seen as a huge strategic error.

In October 2005, Time Magazine wrote: Jobs is fastidious about technology the way a gourmet is fastidious about foie gras, and he recognizes that in an increasingly networked world, in which gadgets can't just do their own thing but have to talk to one another, that conversation will go better if Jobs has scripted both sides of it. "One company makes the software. The other makes the hardware ... It's not working," Jobs says. "The innovation can't happen fast enough. The integration isn't seamless enough. No one takes responsibility for the user interface. It's a mess."

Jobs doesn't care just about winning. He's willing to lose. He has done it often enough. He's just not willing to be lame, and that may, increasingly, be the winning approach. The iPod proved that design and ease of use are at least as important as increased functionality, and the iTunes Music Store proved that goes for smoothly integrating physical devices with online services too. "I think the definition of product has changed over the decades," observes Tony Fadell, vice president of engineering in the iPod division, who played a key role in conceiving and building the first iPod. "The product now is the iTunes Music Store and iTunes and the iPod and the software that goes on the iPod. A lot of companies don't really have control, or they can't really work in a collaborative way to truly make a system. We're really about a system."

That's one aspect of control. Here's another. What Jobs has accepted--the truth that he's willing to face and others cower from--is that new things don't want to be born. Innovation causes problems, and it's much easier simply to avoid it. In fact, it's downright tempting. Other guys may give in to that temptation but not Jobs. He's smart, but more than that, he's willing to be the guy who looks over your shoulder and tells you you're not going to make your dinner reservation tonight because you're going to be here at the office, thinking different.

For almost a quarter century, Sony's Walkman was the brand for portable music now its the Apple iPod. 

19 Alvin Toffler American futurist, known for his works discussing the digital revolution, communications revolution, corporate revolution and technological singularity. A former associate editor of Fortune magazine, his early work focused on technology and its impact (through effects like information overload). Then he moved to examining the reaction of and changes in society. His later focus has been on the increasing power of 21st century military hardware, weapons and technology proliferation, and capitalism


Microsoft concerned about lagging in technical innovation

Rural Development 2025 Report: 10,000 full-time Irish farmers down from 40,000 today; Most Irish-based Foreign Manufacturing Enterprises will be lost to Low-Cost Economies by 2025

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