The Brand Finance Brand Guardianship Index just in has ranked Microsoft boss, Satya Nadella, as the top CEO in the world. Nadella, a first-generation Indian immigrant to the US, "has been credited with overhauling Microsoft's fortunes by changing its culture towards one of teamwork, innovation, and inclusivity, and instilling a growth mindset throughout the business".
Three other Indian-origin expat CEOs rank high: Sundar Pichai of Google is at 5, Shantanu Narayan of Adobe at 6, and Puneet Renjen of Deloitte at 14. N. Chandrasekhar of the Tatas is at 25 in the list and Anand Mahindra of M&M and Mukesh Ambani of Reliance are at 41 and 42, respectively.
State Bank of India's Dinesh Kumar Khara is at 46. The top 10 of the Brand Finance ranking is dominated by CEOs (referred to repeatedly as brand guardians) from the tech and media sectors. Tech boasts six of the top ten - Tim Cook is in second place, having overseen Apple become the first to hit a $3 trillion market valuation.
Cook is followed by CEOs of household tech names: Tencent's Huateng Ma at 4, Pichai at 5, and Netflix's Reed Hastings at 7. AMD CEO Lisa Su is a new entrant at 10. This makes her the highest-ranked female. She newly qualifies for the ranking as AMD has propelled into the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 after a 122 per cent brand value growth over the past year. Su steered AMD through a global chip shortage during the pandemic and came out the other side boasting record revenues. Her leadership of a tech company is unfortunately a rarity, with most being run by males.
This is reflected in the ranking, as the rise in the number of tech brands has come hand in hand with a decrease in the number of female CEOs in the top 100 - from eight in 2021 to five this year. At a country level, the index mirrors the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 ranking, with the US and China leading the way. There are 101 CEOs from the US, which represents 40 per cent of the index, and 47 from China, which represents 19 per cent. Brand guardians from these two countries head up a number of key sectors: Jianjun Wei of Great Wall in Automobiles at 3, Patricia Griffith of Progressive Insurance at 11, Xiongjun Ding of Moutai Spirits at 12, and Baoan Xin of State Grid Utilities at 13.
Among the Americans, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America is at 16, Ramon Laguarta of Pepsi at 17, Andy Jassy of Amazon is at 23. The highest-ranked CEO outside of the US and China monopoly is ADNOC brand guardian Sultan Al Jaber at 15. He is also the top-scoring leader in the oil and gas sector. Aside from ADNOC, Sultan holds senior positions in the UAE government, and in promoting the diversification and growth of the UAE economy. CEOs of the three UAE brands from the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 ranking all feature and record higher scores than last year, with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Emirates at 34th and Etisalat's Hatem Dowidar at 79. Apple has retained the title of the world's most valuable brand following a 35 per cent increase to $355.1 billion - the highest brand value ever recorded in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking.
Overall, media brands accounted for the top 3 fastest-growing brands in the ranking - with another social media app, Snapchat, brand value up 184 per cent to $6.6 billion and South Korean internet brand Kakao, brand value up 161% to $4.7 billion, following closely behind TikTok. Snapchat saw increased daily usage and revenues grow by 77 per cent in the first 9 months of 2021, with the popularity of its short-form video feature, Spotlight, being a key driver.
Other notable performers from the media sector include those that offer streaming services, with Disney (brand value up 11 per cent to $57.0 billion), Netflix (brand value up 18 per cent $29.4 billion), YouTube (brand value up 38 per cent to $23.9 billion), and Spotify (brand value up 13 per cent to $6.3 billion). Traditional media brands have seen a continued decline, with people favouring social media platforms and on-demand streaming in their place. The tech sector remained the most valuable in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking, with a cumulative brand value of close to $1.3 trillion.
In total, 50 tech brands feature in the ranking, however, the brand value is largely attributable to three big players, with Apple, Microsoft (brand value $184.2 billion), and Samsung Group (brand value $107.3 billion) together accounting for more than 50 per cent of the total brand value in the sector. Closely behind them, Huawei managed to reclaim its place among the top 10 most valuable brands in the world, following 29 per cent growth to $71.2 billion.
Huawei's smartphone business was hit by US sanctions, but it reacted positively by heavily stepping up investment in both domestic technology companies and R&D, as well as turning its focus to cloud services. Brand Finance is an independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy headquartered in London.
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