Cover Story -- The Best Managers: Top Managers of 1996
MANAGERS TO WATCH IN 1997
John R. Walter, 49, may have one of the toughest jobs in Corporate America. The new president and CEO-to-be of AT&T must stem a sliding share in long-distance while moving into deregulated local calling. And Walter, who has no telecom experience, must win the loyalty of key AT&T managers he will need.
This is also the year for Jacques A. Nasser, Ford's new automotive president, to prove his mettle. If he can cut $2.5 billion in costs and keep Chairman Alexander J. Trotman's beloved Ford 2000 global reorganization on track, he's a shoo-in to become CEO in two or three years. Pulling that off will take all the skills that earned turnaround specialist Nasser, 49, the nickname "Jac the Knife."
Can Westinghouse's Michael H. Jordan cut it as a media mogul? He--and his critics--are about to find out. Jordan, 60, has done a commendable job restructuring and cleaning up the balance sheet. Now finally rid of the sluggish industrial units, he faces the challenge of running a giant media company.
Jill E. Barad, Mattel's No.2, will take the helm at the toymaker in January, when longtime Chairman John W. Amerman retires. As CEO, the 45-year old Barad will be one of the most powerful women in Corporate America. The top task at hand: integrating newly bought Tyco Toys, which may finally solve Mattel's longstanding boy-toy problem.
Can Roger A. Enrico fix what ails PepsiCo? The company's never-ending international troubles and ongoing difficulties in restaurants put the 52-year-old CEO in the hot seat. Enrico's recently announced restructuring could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Will Deutsche Bank's risky push into investment banking pay off? Rolf-Ernst Breuer, 59, who takes the helm in May as CEO, has the tough assignment of making it happen. Under current CEO Hilmar Kopper, Germany's $39 billion bank spent huge sums beefing up. Now, Breuer must tap years of experience in the bank's investment and trading department to start making money.
Tough cost-cutting and a strict new focus on boosting gross margins helped Chief Executive Gilbert F. Amelio return Apple Computer to profitability two quarters ahead of schedule. Now Amelio, 53, must reverse Apple's slump in market share and regain its technology edge. Step one: turning the software acquired from Steven Jobs's NeXT Software into a hot new Mac operating system.
Four months after taking over at Texaco in July, 1996, CEO Peter I. Bijur faced a major public-relations crisis over revelations that senior executives had made disparaging remarks about minority employees and discussed shredding documents in a discrimination suit. Bijur, 54, won high marks for swiftly settling the suit and blunting a consumer backlash. But Bijur must ensure that Texaco's new diversity programs end the complaints of discrimination and heal internal rifts.
Warnaco Chairman and CEO Linda J. Wachner's attempt to arrange a Warnaco buyout of Authentic Fitness--which she runs and personally holds a 12% stake in--got her into hot water last year. Irked shareholders killed the deal for money-losing Authentic. Nagging conflict-of-interest accusations may lead Wach-ner, 50, to give up the CEO's slot at the swimsuit maker in 1997.
Starting with Ziff-Davis Publishing, Japanese cyber-mogul Masayoshi Son, 39, has spent $4.5 billion snapping up a grab bag of computer-publication, multimedia, and Internet ventures. His Softbank has also invested heavily in electronic-commerce and Web-site technologies. Will Son succeed in making Softbank the hub of a digital marketplace?
After a year in which highflier Motorola was grounded by troubles in semiconductors and cell phones, Christopher B. Galvin, the founder's grandson, became CEO. Family ties mean that the 46-year old Galvin, whose sales and marketing background is a departure for the engineer-dominated company, will face especially sharp scrutiny.
Netscape Communications may be the fastest-growing software company ever, but CEO James L. Barksdale faces a tough year. With Microsoft aiming its guns at the Internet phenom, Barksdale, 53, will have to use all the skills he learned at fast-growth pioneers Federal Express and McCaw Cellular.
In April, Maytag tapped former Frito-Lay exec Lloyd D. Ward to run its slow-growing appliance division. The 47-year-old Ward brings aggressive consumer-marketing skills to the task of juicing up the company's biggest unit. If he succeeds, Ward could nab the top job when Chairman and CEO Leonard A. Hadley retires, probably in 1999.
Less than a year after taking the helm at British Telecommunications, CEO Peter L. Bonfield stunned rivals with his $20 billion-plus megamerger with MCI. His goal: transform BT into the first global phone company. But can Bonfield, 51, meld the two companies' vastly different cultures?
Nor has Bonfield made life easier for Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp. Murdoch, 65, must launch American Sky Broadcasting, his $2 billion U.S. satellite system, while looking for new financing: Partner MCI is cutting its investment to merge with BT. Meanwhile, Murdoch's two-year-old Asian satellite service is losing a bundle, and his Fox TV network faces a costly bidding war over pro football broadcasting rights.
The heat is also on for America Online CEO Stephen M. Case. The Internet explosion is giving AOL stiff competition and recently forced it to revamp pricing. Dropping a controversial accounting practice earlier this year helped clean up AOL's balance sheet but also wiped out most of its past earnings. With questions about AOL's long-term viability on the rise, Case, 38, must ratchet advertising and merchandising revenues up dramatically.
As the founders of Wired Ventures, Louis Rossetto, 47, and Jane Metcalfe, 35, have given cyberculture one of the hottest publications around. But after a failed IPO earlier this year, the company is in dire need of cash to fund efforts to broaden Wired's reach through ventures in book publishing, television, and the Internet. Negotiations for a private placement are under way, but the pair also must cut costs, which have so far outpaced their aggressive growth.
Volkswagen CEO Ferdinand Pich, 59, must settle the escalating legal fight with General Motors over allegations that former purchasing chief Jose Ignacio Lpez de ArriortPound a stole company secrets from GM. Pich wooed Lopez from GM in 1993 and continued to defend him even after Lpez resigned days before being indicted early last month. So far, Pich--who is under pressure to settle before March, when his own five-year contract is up for renewal--looks secure. But if the fight drags on, his job, too, could be in question.
RJR Nabisco CEO Steven F. Goldstone, 50, made headlines when he said that he would accept some regulation of tobacco in return for protection against future lawsuits. Stay tuned to learn if the onetime corporate attorney can actually cut a deal. Meanwhile, Goldstone has stabilized RJR, pushing 1996 profits up an estimated 14%, even as he fends off continuing attacks from financiers Carl C. Icahn and Bennett LeBow.