No. 8: Howard Schultz
Since returning to his role as CEO in 2008, Schultz has worked through mass firings and store closures to get the chain back on track. In 2011, he led the company to a partnership with its largest competitor, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. He also led Starbucks through the acquisition of Evolution Fresh, the producer of a no-heat juice product sold on the West Coast.
He used 2011 to form the Create Jobs for USA program, which not only sparked rumors of a possible presidential bid, but has positioned Schultz as an industry advocate for overall economic growth. The year ahead will shape up to be an interesting one for Schultz as his initiatives, new and old, continue to unfold.