The annual CEO RepTrak® study by Reputation Institute measures the reputations of global CEOs. The study analyzes the most highly-regarded and familiar global companies across the world's 15 largest economies. CEO RepTrak assesses CEO reputations in comparison to their peers, as well as the relationship between a CEO's personal reputation and the reputation of his or her company.
A key part of the research is to explore learnings from individual CEOs, ranging from those facing reputation risks to those who are leading with ethical, responsible behavior.
Estée Lauder's Fabrizio Freda leads with a vision.
A top 10 CEO veteran, Fabrizio Freda finds himself among the most reputable CEOs for the second year in a row. The Italian born CEO took on his position at the Estée Lauder Companies in 2009. His style of leadership has been characterized as strategy-focused and results-driven. With this approach, Freda has kept this baby boomer company hip and relevant among millennials. Since 2018, Freda has not only maintained a position within the top 10, his reputation has increased significantly, moving from a strong to an excellent reputation. The most impactful driver of Freda's reputation trajectory is his Influence—his ability to have a global perspective and think ahead of the curve.
Shell's Ben van Beurden is leading the energy sector transformation.
Over the past few decades, the energy sector has been scrutinized, criticized and on the bottom of the reputation totem pole. This year, though, the industry is going through a reputational transformation. Leaders of energy companies are to thank, one being Royal Dutch Shell's Ben van Beurden. A chemical engineer by education, van Beurden has focused his CEO tenure on Shell's role in climate change and effective energy transformation with no sign of slowing down. We see that van Beurden's work is being well-received by the public as he ranks in the top 10 most reputable CEOs for the first time this year. Since 2018, van Beurden's reputation jumped significantly, mainly driven by increased performance in the area of Responsibility, which happened to be his weakest area according to the 2018 data. These results are a testament to van Beurden's commitment and efforts in corporate responsibility within a reputationally challenged sector.
Google's Sundar Pichai has fallen from grace.
Sundar Pichai's humble demeanor and egoless leadership style made him into an aspirational CEO for others to follow. Only 3 years into his tenure, Google's Pichai was the most reputable CEO of 2018. According to our data, Pichai had an exceptional score in the area of Leadership and was perceived to have a strong leadership image, clear strategic vision, and could anticipate change well.
Fast forward to 2019—the area in which Pichai excelled is now his downfall. After a tumultuous year that brought to light Google's unethical behavior, and questioned Pichai's leadership skills, his reputation scores declined substantially. Is he a strong leader? Can he really anticipate change? Google's handling of its sexual harassment allegations indicates otherwise. Along with the decline in his Leadership score, Pichai's reputation dropped from #1 to #88.
Dara Khosrowshahi leads Uber's recovery.
Uber's CEO and founder, Travis Kalanick, left the company with its reputation in the gutter—a difficult situation for whoever follows. Dara Khosrowshahi, former CEO of Expedia took on the challenge and ushered Uber to its new chapter. Khosrowshahi conveyed his and Uber's updated brand promise through the Moving Forward campaign. The company now stands for an ethical commitment to its stakeholders.
Through this initiative, Khosrowshahi aligns his vision with that of Uber and it's paying off. Globally in 2019, Uber has the highest reputation increase, which was primarily driven by its Workplace and Leadership scores. Mirroring Uber's recovery, Khosrowshahi's reputation increased.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos is losing his "Midas Touch."
It's a tale of two powerful entities—Amazon is one of the 10 largest companies in the world, and at its helm of is CEO and founder (not to mention the richest man in the world), Jeff Bezos. Bezos' and Amazon's success and impact on our day-to-day lives is undeniable. These merits earned Bezos excellent scores in Leadership and Management, and Amazon a place among the US top 10 most reputable companies. The company's excellent financial metrics help Bezos also earn high scores in terms of profit and management, but our data shows that he is unable to establish an emotional connection with the public. Instead, he is perceived as a CEO who lacks care for both his employees and social causes. As a result, Bezos' reputation and Responsibility scores are declining.
Check out our latest CEO RepTrak report for the most reputable CEOs for 2019.