Canada's global leaders

40 Canadians who've become international business power players.

The titles say it all: CEO of the planet's largest pharmaceutical company; global chief marketing officer for the world's No. 1 fast-food chain; director of research for the biggest computer-chip maker in the known universe. Canadian business talent, along with oil and wood and comedians, is quickly becoming a major exportable resource.

As proof, we offer these profiles of 40 leaders on the global stage — some staking out territory south of the border, others holding posts in faraway or exotic locations, from Australia and New Zealand to Moscow and Sweden. Their success might just have something to do with the nationality on their passports. Everyone knows Canadians' reputation as consensus-builders, but they are increasingly perceived in the wider world as having the North American entrepreneurial goods to make it in an increasingly global business environment. For the cream of the crop represented here, an international career has allowed them the freedom to pursue opportunities — and take risks — they may not have at home. And their stories offer real-life lessons on how to fast-track an executive career — whether in your hometown or halfway around the world.

Patricia Arnold, 58
Vice-president, Credit Suisse First Boston, Zurich

“The world is a lot smaller than it was even 20 years ago.”

Patricia Arnold started in the financial services industry at Sun Life in Montreal in the early '70s, then moved on to Calgary to work for a new startup called Petro-Canada. It turned out to be the first stop on a lifelong career path that has led her around the world to places as disparate as Albania, Hungary, Switzerland and Sudan.

Unfortunately, the posting in Sudan (where her husband was working on an energy project) coincided with the U.S. bombing of neighbouring Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's residence, in 1986. “Many of the locals were upset and began taking out that anger on expats. People were being pulled out of cars,” remembers Arnold, who was told to leave the country and take only one bag of belongings. She and her husband ran into the street, which was choked with Sudanese soldiers, and got on a bus bound for the airport. They caught a flight to Nairobi, then Switzerland, a country she has come to love. Once there she landed a job with Capgemini, which eventually turned into a position with Credit Suisse working on setting up financial data systems.

Arnold credits the bilingual multiculturalism of her home country, and especially rural Quebec, for giving her an advantage abroad. “We try to integrate,” she says. “People can isolate themselves by staying in the expat community.” For example, in largely Muslim Sudan she wore long sleeves and long skirts, while in Switzerland she's been reading a two-volume book on local history. “There's a ravine 200 metres from our house that has been the site of religious gatherings for 5,000 years,” says Arnold. “It's kind of spooky, but travelling puts you in touch with world history in a way you never experienced in school.” Still, she doesn't think she'll return to Canada as a permanent resident. “The drawbacks of living abroad? I can't think of any.” J.S.

Hani Zayadi, 57
Group Managing Director, Food, Liquor and Fuel, Coles Myer Ltd., Melbourne, Australia

“In Canada, I had a great network; I knew every retailer, every supplier, what buttons to push. Here, I've had to learn all this.”

Canada and Australia have a lot in common when it comes to the challenges of retailing, says Hani Zayadi, the Montreal-raised exec who now heads the A$25-billion-a-year food, fuel and liquor business at Coles Myer Ltd., the biggest retailer Down Under. “Both are logistically difficult to manage, large countries with small populations,” says Zayadi, who cut his retail teeth at (now defunct) Dylex Ltd. and Hudson's Bay Co. (He was president of Zellers during its glory days in the late '80s.) The populations in both countries are concentrated in select areas: most Australians live in “capital cities” along the coast; the majority of Canadians live along the United States border.

So Zayadi, who came to Canada from Egypt as an adolescent, was prepared for the issues facing Coles Myer when he joined the company in 2001 to manage its A$4.5-billion-a-year Kmart department store division. Zayadi put the ailing retailer back on track through competitive pricing and improving its distribution system. His efforts were rewarded in January when he was appointed managing director of the much larger food, liquor and fuel division. (With more than 165,000 employees, Coles Myer is Australia's biggest employer, after the federal government.) The division is in the midst of adopting “global best practices,” says Zayadi, and the fact he is Canadian may be helpful. “We have the knowledge, the experience and the feel for what happens in North American business, without the burden of being the big, bad U.S.”

Zayadi admits his move to Australia almost didn't happen. After being recruited from Zellers to turn around the British Columbia-based Woodwards (the chain eventually went bankrupt in 1993) Zayadi bought his own retail jewelry business. In 1999, he joined Wal-Mart International as senior vice-present of merchandising and marketing in Canada. “I didn't want to live as a retailer without having experienced Wal-Mart,” says Zayadi. But an executive recruiter vigorously pursued him for the Kmart job. “In the end, the lure of a pure turnaround — with me making the impact — was too attractive a proposition to turn down.” Z.O.

Andrew Stuart, 37
CEO, Bentley Motors Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich.

“Work hard and opportunities will come to you.”

Andrew Stuart made history last year. The Halifax native became the first person outside the U.K. to be named CEO of Bentley Motors Inc., the North American division of England's Bentley Motors Ltd. An accomplishment like this usually takes some career planning. Stuart, though, seems to be an exception to the rule.

He admits he never intended to work for a global company, or to move to Bentley's offices in Michigan. In fact, the thought of running luxury automaker Bentley Motors didn't cross his mind until some Bentley executives pitched him the idea last year. At that time, he was the sales and marketing director at Auburn Hills-based VW Credit Inc. (The Volkswagen and Bentley brands are both owned by the same parent company, Volkswagen AG.) “The next thing I know I'm over in England chatting with Dr. [Franz-Josef] Paefgen, Bentley's worldwide chairman,” says the University of Oregon MBA graduate. “I was offered the job in September, and I took it in October.”

Stuart does offer this insight into his success: “My philosophy has always been to do quality work, be straightforward with people and take risks where appropriate.” Sometimes, that's all you need. C.L.

Marie-Josée Lamothe, 37
International marketing director, Haircolor, L'Oréal Paris, Paris

“If you are interested in working abroad, you have to love the idea of being in a situation that is a bit unsettling.”

Marie-Josée Lamothe moved to Paris in early 2002 to head up the international marketing team for hair colour at French cosmetic company L'Oréal, enrolling her then-four-year-old daughter in a school for expats. Within two weeks, Lamothe decided it was a mistake — and moved her to the local French school. “Immediately, she understood the culture, met friends and became part of the neighbourhood,” says the Montreal native. This sums up Lamothe's approach to a career overseas. “The best way to adapt is to get right in there,” she says. Originally recruited to L'Oréal from Clairol Canada, Lamothe's latest triumph was the successful rollout of Color Pulse, a temporary dye aimed at teens as a “recruiting” product for more permanent colour treatments. This spring, she will become vice-president and general manager for L'Oréal's Biotherm skin-care and makeup line in Canada. “For personal reasons, I needed to come back to Canada for an undetermined period,” she says. “There's a very human side to L'Oréal that understood that.” Z.O.

Arkadi Kuhlmann, 58
Chairman, president and CEO, ING Direct, Wilmington, Del.

“If everybody goes right, then I'm going left.”

More than eight years after Arkadi Kuhlmann introduced ING Direct to Canada, he boasts how that experience became the springboard for launching the Dutch financial group's branchless banking system in the United States, where it's now the fourth-largest “thrift” bank.

Portrayed in the media as a motorcycle-riding rebel, Kuhlmann, who immigrated to Canada from Germany when he was 10, held a number of jobs in the financial world before joining ING as president and CEO of its Canadian division, in 1996. He delivered profitable results two years ahead of schedule. In 2000, Kuhlmann set his sights on the United States, a market he says has grown “twice as big, twice as fast and made twice as much money in half the time.”

Although Kuhlmann still rides his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to work and listens to heavy metal rockers Metallica, he's toned down the rebel image, devoting more time to painting and poetry. And despite his dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship, he still identifies himself as a proud Canadian. “I love the way we kind of muddle through.” E.P.

Rob Burgess, 47, Executive Chairman
Stephen Elop, 41, CEO
Macromedia, San Francisco

Rob Burgess and Stephen Elop have a lot in common. Born in Ontario, both graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton. Both have families that include multiple-set children: Burgess has twin sons, Elop has triplet daughters. And both have experience heading up Macromedia, the San Francisco-based software company best known for bringing Flash to the Internet. Elop, with the firm since 1998, took over as CEO from Burgess in January. Based in Limehouse, Ont., northwest of Toronto, for family reasons, he spends a lot of time flying to the company's headquarters and around the world. “Instead of the 401, I commute on Air Canada,” says Elop. Burgess, meanwhile, lives in the San Francisco area but spends summers at his Muskoka cottage.

Neither planned a career outside Canada, but both followed the action in their industry to California. “It's just a lot busier here,” says Burgess, who held executive positions at 3-D graphics firms before joining Macromedia, in 1996. Both credit success to a mixture of hard work and good fortune. As Elop puts it: “Talented people who are well motivated, given a new opportunity, can do some amazing things.” A.M.

Scott Beattie, 46
Chairman and CEO, Elizabeth Arden Inc., Miami Lakes, Fla.

“I think Canadians, coming from a smaller country, have a more outward-looking perspective in terms of understanding and adapting to markets around the world.”

As an investment banker, Scott Beattie didn't usually take a role in the day-to-day running of the businesses he targeted. But in 1992, Bedford Capital Corp., the private equity firm he founded, paid US$6 million for a 60% stake in French Fragrances, a small Florida-based perfume distribution business with annual sales of US$30 million. Beattie “saw opportunity,” and by 1998 took a direct hand in the company. “We got to a level of volume that made it interesting to become full-time operating executive of the company,” he says. This year, sales are expected to top US$900 million, thanks to the acquisition, five years ago, of the Elizabeth Arden business, from consumer products giant Unilever, for US$240 million. “We had a small, profitable company with good people,” says Beattie, “but it needed more capital and an ambitious growth plan.”

Beattie, a native of Toronto, went to the United States in 1981 after graduating from the University of Western Ontario with a business degree. He spent five years as a consultant for Arthur Anderson (now Accenture) in such cities as Denver and Washington, D.C. “I enjoyed the dynamic business atmosphere of America,” he says.

After returning to Western for his MBA, Beattie worked for Merrill Lynch in Toronto and New York as an investment banker. In 1990, he and three partners started up Toronto-based Bedford, where Beattie is still a director. The firm invested in everything from pet stores — it has a stake in the Pet Valu chain — to the Brita water filtration business (eventually sold to U.S.-based Clorox).

At Elizabeth Arden, Beattie has turned a well-known but tired beauty brand into one with a sexier, hipper image. The company is targeting a younger customer with a marketing campaign featuring actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (above) and the addition of “celebrity” perfumes like Britney Spears' Curious. For Beattie, these changes represent the sweet smell of success. Z.O.

Ron McEachern, 52
President Asia, PepsiCo International, Hong Kong

“I don't think anchovy-flavoured Quaker Oats are going to be a big success in Toronto.”

Thanks to unusual products like anchovy-flavoured oatmeal, Ron McEachern has helped PepsiCo, the snack and beverage giant, take a bite out of the emerging Asian market.

Since he moved to Hong Kong from Toronto, in 1997, to run PepsiCo's China beverage unit, McEachern's portfolio has expanded to include all Frito-Lay, Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade and soft-drink brands for China, India and the Pacific Rim. Asia, he says, is “a top investment priority for PepsiCo.”

After recognizing that “we can't just be a western company in Asia,” the former marketing executive, who has been with PepsiCo since 1984, launched a series of innovative products tailored to the unique tastes, habits and cultures of the booming Asian market.

Indeed, thanks to McEachern, Chinese consumers have gobbled up the idea of “cool lemon” and cucumber-flavoured Lay's potato chips in the summer, while enjoying stewed-meat, five-fish and Peking duck-flavoured ones in the winter. “It's like the yin and yang,” says McEachern. “In China, fried food is considered 'heating.' It's the type of thing you'd eat in cold weather. But you eat cool things in the summer.”

In Japan, McEachern says, consumers “won't drink anything that's got a bright colour.” So PepsiCo introduced a translucent, grapefruit-flavoured Gatorade there. In China, where cinnamon is considered “a very low-class ingredient,” as he puts it, the company launched its fish-flavoured Quaker Oatmeal. As for Pepsi-Cola, the formula has stayed the same, but mixing North American advertising concepts with messages from local celebrities and athletes, says McEachern, has added “fizz” to the brand.

McEachern, who owns a ski chalet north of Vancouver, tries to return home a few times a year. It's a good reminder, he says, that the one thing he doesn't miss is “shovelling snow.” E.P.

Steven McArthur, 38
President, North American operations, Expedia, Bellevue, Wash.

“It's amazing what challenging opportunities are out there, if you take a peek over the horizon.”

Steven McArthur, president of North American operations at online travel company Expedia, moved to Toronto from London 16 years ago. He looked at his situation this way: “If I don't like it, there's a flight back to London every day.” Now McArthur considers Toronto “home,” despite the fact he lives just outside Seattle.

Born in Northern Ireland, McArthur came to Canada as a consultant with Bain & Co. He held executive positions at Maple Leaf Foods and AOL Canada, before moving on to work at America Online Inc. in Dulles, Va.

In July, McArthur, with dual Canadian-Irish citizenship, joined Expedia as head of its largest division. He spends part of his days getting to know customers better with a hands-on approach he learned with the McCains at Maple Leaf. So if you write a letter about your experience with Expedia, good or bad, don't be surprised to get a phone call from a man with a slight Irish accent.

Simon Cooper, 58
President and chief operating officer, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., Chevy Chase, Md.

“I have a certain frustration that fewer North Americans are willing to take the time to work in different parts of the world.”

At 26, Simon Cooper dropped his job captaining yachts in the Caribbean to plunge his hands into dishwater at the Château Champlain in Montreal. “I got the fancy title [assistant chief steward] because I was the only one that could read and write English,” he says.

Though born in Ingatestone, England, Cooper clings to his adopted Canadian heritage. He even sports a hockey jacket on Canada Day. Cooper, who worked his way up through the hotel industry in Canada, took over his current job in 2001 from German-born Horst Schulz, the famed personality behind the Ritz. Since then, Cooper has left his own stamp on the lavish chain: he's expanded the brand into residential properties, while subtly altering the elegance of the hotels to keep up with the times. These days, Cooper estimates he spends about half his time travelling around the world. Though sometimes exhausting, it sure beats dish duty.

Kenneth Courtis, 50
Vice-chairman, Goldman Sachs Asia, Hong Kong

“Canada has to be relevant on all the relevant questions; that is the only way a little country like ours can punch over its weight.”

Peter C. Newman, chronicler of the Canadian establishment, once wrote that Kenneth Courtis “may well be the world's best-connected economist.” So it's no surprise Prime Minister Paul Martin recently paid him a visit while in Tokyo. Born in London, Ont., but raised on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay near Barrie, Courtis works on global transactions with an Asian slant, including the US$1.8-billion sale of IBM's PC business to China's Lenovo last year and the privatization of PetroChina in 2000.

Courtis is fascinated by different cultures and now speaks five languages, including French, Chinese, Japanese and German. Although he had intended to go to Yale to become a lawyer, he instead opted to study economics at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris, where he became a tenured professor at 24. With Goldman Sachs, he's now in a different time zone every few days. “The greatest challenge is figuring out how to use your time,” he says. “You have to figure out where to best put your energy.”

John Belcher, 62
Chairman and CEO, ARINC Inc., Annapolis, MD.

“You've got to realize [the U.S.] is an aggressive market. If you want to succeed, you'd better have a hell of a lot of energy and be a hands-on CEO.”

Most people in their 60s start to take it easy. Not John Belcher. The Ottawa-born head of ARINC, a provider of communication equipment for the transportation and defence industries, aims to tip the company's annual revenues over the US$1-billion mark by 2006. He's almost there: since joining the company in 1997, Belcher has quadrupled yearly sales to US$800 million.

Belcher got his start as an electrical engineer with the federal government. He joined the aerospace industry in the early 1990s, ending up as CEO at Hughes Aircraft of Canada. “I had a great experience in Canada,” says Belcher, “but to run bigger companies I had to come to the U.S.”

Clara Furse, 47
CEO, London Stock Exchange

“I was born in Canada, went to school in Colombia and Denmark, and have worked for American, French and Swiss companies.”

With Clara Furse's appointment as CEO of the London Stock Exchange, in 2001, she became the first woman to oversee Europe's largest equity market. Furse, a native of Jonquière, Que., was brought in after her predecessor's ill-conceived plan to merge the 200-year-old exchange with the Deutsche Boerse in 2000. Prior to joining the LSE, she had stints in London as a derivatives broker for UBS Warburg and as a group CEO for Credit Lyonnais Rouse. Many credit Furse with helping the exchange, now publicly traded, weather the recent bear market. But the LSE is again an acquisition target, and Furse must now deal with offers from suitors such as France's Euronext.

Martin Glynn, 53
President and Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bank USA, New York

“Think big, work hard and aspire to higher things than your gut tells you.”

Martin Glynn built a 22-year career with London-based HSBC Group by jumping into unknown waters — to learn how to swim. While in the trade finance division, the Montreal native became a bank branch manager because he was unfamiliar with mortgages and other aspects of retail banking. Later, with little understanding of securities, he signed up to build the firm's wealth management businesses. “As you rise through an organization,” the former CEO of HSBC Bank Canada says, “have the courage to learn new things, even if it's outside of your comfort zone.”

Michael Beber, 45
Senior vice-president and chief strategic development officer, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., New York

“The U.S. is far more entrepreneurial, far more open-minded to new ideas and opportunities.”

After four years commuting between New York and Toronto, forensic accounting expert Michael Beber decided in 2003 he had to settle in one place. The Big Apple was the obvious choice. “I hadn't planned for a career in the U.S., but the opportunities became self-evident,” says Beber. In January, he was promoted to oversee corporate growth strategy for MMC, a professional services firm and the world's largest insurance brokerage. He had a similar job with MMC subsidiary Kroll Inc., pulling off several key acquisitions. Beber is part of management changes aimed at restoring MMC's reputation: last October, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer launched a lawsuit against the firm alleging price-rigging; it resulted in a US$850-million settlement. One advantage of being in New York, says Beber, is he's never out of the loop. “If you're physically sitting beside the CEO, guess what? You'll be more involved.”

Umberto Angeloni, 52
Chairman and CEO, Brioni Group, Rome

“James Bond epitomizes the ultimate connoisseur. No one knows how to wear a suit, mix a drink or seduce a woman like James Bond.”

Umberto Angeloni has built Italian fashion house Brioni into a luxury brand to be reckoned with since taking the helm in 1990. Thanks in part to clever marketing, it's grown from annual sales equal to Û25 million back then to about Û200 million in 2004. Indeed, Brioni custom-tailored suits now adorn the frames of such public figures as UN secretary general Kofi Annan and actor Pierce Brosnan (as Agent 007 James Bond). Angeloni — born in Italy but a Canadian citizen after coming here in 1976 to do his MBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ont. — cut his teeth in the U.S. financial community. The self-declared bon vivant (he's authored books on topics ranging from single-malt scotch to spa treatments) has turned Brioni into a single word that defines Italian elegance in men's fashion.

Dominic Barton, 42
Chairman, Asia region, McKinsey & Co., Shanghai, China

“The most challenging aspects have been the language and, at times, my age. In many companies in Asia, the older you are, the more respect you get.”
When it comes to financial management in Asia, Dominic Barton, born in Uganda and raised in British Columbia's Fraser Valley, is the go-to consultant. A Rhodes Scholar and former Oxford lecturer in economics, Barton oversees about 1,400 McKinsey employees and has worked with Korea's financial regulator and Singapore's monetary authority. As well, Barton, a currency analyst for NM Rothschild & Son in London before joining McKinsey in 1986, helps Asian financial institutions with turnaround strategies, asset management and corporate governance. The job involves extensive travel. “I am one of the most frequent fliers on two airlines in Asia,” Barton says, “and have been so for the past two years.”

Brian Hilberdink, 35
Director, Brand Management, Novo Nordisk U.S., Princeton, N.J.

“I started shooting my mouth off in our international meetings, and things progressed from there.”

Ten years ago, Brian Hilberdink was a history grad from Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., managing a water park in the Niagara Peninsula. Today, he's a marketing whiz at Novo Nordisk A/S, a Danish-owned pharmaceutical company with more than $6 billion in annual sales. Hilberdink chalks up his success to having the “business orientation of an American and the cultural sensitivity of a Canadian.”

Barbara Kovacs, 53
Vice-president and managing director, Tiffany & Co. United Kingdom, London

“My advice for an executive who wants to work internationally is that you really want to be part of another culture, another environment. And you have to immerse yourself in it.”

When Barbara Kovacs started her MBA, in 1981, she knew two things: she wanted to work abroad, and her “dream job” was to manage a luxury retail business. She's achieved both, though she took a circuitous route through banking first. “I realized early that finance would be an important foundation for any career,” says Brantford, Ont.-born Kovacs, who has been running the British operations of U.S. jeweller Tiffany & Co. since 2001. After studying at the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ont., as well as the London Business School, Kovacs worked at the Swiss Bank in Canada and at the Royal Bank in both Britain and Canada. She joined Tiffany when it opened here, in 1991. For those who contemplate a career abroad, Kovacs suggests joining the Canadian operations of a multinational — and “proving yourself so that you come up on a short list of candidates for offshore work experience.”

Cam Hyde, 53
Corporate officer and General Manager, North American Agent Operations, Xerox Corp., Rochester, N.Y.

“I originally knew Xerox as a company that made the high-quality, non-smelly copies at university. Once I got there, I was inspired by Xerox's people.”

In 1977, just 18 months into his career with Xerox, Edmonton native Cam Hyde packed his bags for Fort McMurray, Alta., to become that northern region's first resident sales rep. “I was on my own, handling big accounts, as a kid out of school,” recalls the former CEO of Xerox Canada. “I had a lot of success there, which probably gave people the idea I could be a manager.”

Frank Sixt, 53
Group Finance Director, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., Hong Kong

“What makes you successful is other people's successes; it's not your own.”

Frank Sixt credits “the love of a good woman” — his wife, Anne — for seeding his career. After getting married, in 1972, he put aside youthful pursuits like poetry and rock music to study law at the University of Montreal. Hired by Montreal's influential Stikeman Elliott firm, he thrived in tax law. In 1983, Hewitt Stikeman, the firm's founding partner, offered him a two-year posting at a new Hong Kong office — mostly to work with billionaire Li Ka-shing, a client with a major stake in CIBC who four years earlier had acquired the British conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa. “I came to Hong Kong with a relatively limited skill set, most of which related to how to inbound investment into Canada and, to a lesser extent, North America, at a time when Hong Kong was a place very interested in outbound investments,” he says.

Li saw something in Sixt; his two-year stint has now turned into 22. Sixt's “baptism of fire,” as he calls it, was as a junior lawyer on Hutchison's 1987 acquisition of a controlling stake in Calgary's Husky Oil. Four years later, he joined Hutchison's board as an executive director to oversee its foreign investment portfolios, and in 1998, Li made Sixt group finance director. Since then, Hutchison Whampoa has more than doubled its global activities. It has more than 180,000 employees in 45 countries and some US$77 billion in assets. That's put Sixt in the middle of some very big business. In 2000, he orchestrated a US$5-billion block trade — the largest ever — as part of the US$20-billion sale of Hutchison's interests in cellular services; he was a key insider on the unsuccessful attempt by Li's son Victor to gain control of Air Canada last year; and in January, he helped Li Ka-shing establish a Canadian charitable foundation with some of the estimated $1.2 billion in proceeds from his sale of CIBC shares. Not bad for a poet-cum-tax lawyer.

Cynthia Trudell, 51
President, Sea Ray Group, Knoxville, Tenn.

“A company's culture is like the clothes you wear. If it's not a good fit for you, you'll never be comfortable.”

The first woman to run a major U.S. auto company — she was president of General Motors-owned Saturn Corp. until joining boat manufacturer Sea Ray in 2001 — New Brunswick- born Trudell spent 20 years at GM, with assignments in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. A chemical engineer with a doctorate in chemistry, Trudell says it's “important to find a company or a profession whose values are compatible with your own.”

Michael Rapino, 39
President, Global Music, Clear Channel Entertainment, Los Angeles

“The music industry is in a period of significant change. As a result, we need to continually evolve our business model and organization to meet the changing landscape.”

Clear Channel Entertainment, North America's largest concert promoter, appointed Michael Rapino president in July. The native of Thunder Bay, Ont., and former Labatt marketing exec is charged with returning Clear Channel — whose profits have suffered due to consumer anger over high ticket prices and spotty service — to the financial limelight.

Sergio Marchionne, 52
CEO, Fiat SpA, Turin, Italy

“The struggle for survival never stops.”

General Motors knows how tough Canadians can be. But not even union leader Buzz Hargrove prepared the world's largest automaker for Sergio Marchionne. The Italian-Canadian made a name for himself as a turnaround guy and cost-cutter at Geneva's SGS SA, a goods-inspection company, and Switzerland-based Lonza Group AG, a major maker of drug ingredients. Marchionne — who immigrated to Canada at 14 — was charged with saving Italy's Fiat Group in June. Since then, he has improved the books by swinging the axe. He has also announced plans to focus corporate restructuring efforts on the relaunch of Fiat Auto — which came after forcing GM to cough up US$2 billion to free itself of an obligation to buy the unprofitable auto division.

Hugh Verrier, 48
Partner, White & Case LLP, Moscow

“I got where I am because of René Lévesque: he closed my world, which opened up the rest to me.”

Born in England, raised in Montreal and educated in the United States, Europe and Canada, Hugh Verrier is clearly a man of many worlds. After leaving Quebec in 1978, on the heels of the René Lévesque's separatist Parti Québécois coming to power in 1976, the one-time law clerk to former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Bertha Wilson joined the international law firm of White & Case in 1983. Since then, Verrier has completed stints with White & Case in New York, Jakarta and Ankara. He went to Moscow in 1998 to manage the firm's practice in Russia. “The longer you're away and the more you see of the rest of the world,” Verrier says, “Canada just looks better.”

Don Listwin, 46
Vice-chairman, Openwave Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif.

“I never did get my MBA. Have a good idea and work hard. Credentials aren't mandatory.”

Raised in Saskatoon, Don Listwin was once rumoured to be in line for Cisco Systems' top job. Instead, in 2000 he jumped to software-maker Openwave Systems as CEO — then spent four years saving it by overhauling its business for the mobile phone market. Drained but successful, Listwin stepped down from an executive position in November to focus on a new venture: raising money for research on the early detection of cancer through the Canary Fund, a non-profit he founded in 2004.

Andrew Ferrier, 46
CEO, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand

“Canadians are viewed significantly better in the eyes of foreigners than in our own eyes.”

Montreal-born Andrew Ferrier's 2003 appointment as CEO of Fonterra, a dairy co-operative and New Zealand's largest company, raised a few eyebrows among the locals. He's not a native Kiwi, for starters, and he's spent most of his career in the sugar industry. But when approached about the job back in 2003, Ferrier figured “it was as perfect a fit to my background as you could get.” Both sugar and dairy, he says, “are sold as ingredients and as consumer products, and both are subject to international trade issues and the pressures of politics.” Ferrier now heads a publicly traded dairy processor with shares owned by 12,000 New Zealand dairy farmers — and with annual revenue of NZ$11.8 billion (about $9 billion).

Prior to Fonterra, Ferrier spent most of his 16 years in the sugar business with British multinational Tate & Lyle PLC, where he served as president of its Canadian subsidiary, Redpath Sugars, from 1994 to 1999 and as CEO of its North American division from 1998 to 1999. When Tate & Lyle restructured operations in 1999, he left to spend more than three years as CEO of GSW Inc., a maker of water heaters and building products, in Toronto. After overseeing GSW's turnaround, a headhunter for Fonterra came calling. “If the call had been a year earlier, I would not even remotely have thought about taking it,” he says.

Ferrier says Fonterra is “grounded in New Zealand” — where about half its 20,000 employees are based — but it's a “global company.” Indeed, 95% of its revenue comes from abroad. Its large-scale milk procurement and processing business makes up about two-thirds of its revenues, and has a supply chain spanning 120 countries, while its branded consumer dairy business, New Zealand Milk, operates in 40 countries. That gives Ferrier clout. “Anybody I need to get in touch with, from the [N.Z.] prime minister on down, I can get in touch with,” he says. “If I go to Washington, D.C., for Fonterra, I see more senior people there than when I was in the U.S. in the sugar industry.”

Kerri Molinaro, 43
President, Ikea Sweden, Helsingborg

“Working abroad is an experience much more enriching than the job.”

In 1992, Kerri Molinaro left fashion retail to join Swedish home-furnishings giant Ikea as a store manager in Toronto. Eight years later, she took over Ikea's Swedish operations. The Toronto native is looking forward to coming home this September as president of Ikea Canada. “The only news I can really get here in English is BBC and CNN,” she says. “I miss Peter Mansbridge.”

David Tennenhouse, 47
Vice-President, Corporate Technology Group, and Director of Research, Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.

“Never underestimate your ability to commit cultural errors. There are many subtle differences in what one might think of as relatively fundamental concepts, such as fairness, consensus, scientific methods.”

One of the world's leading corporate scientists, Ottawa native David Tennenhouse, educated at the University of Toronto and at Cambridge, migrated from academia to government to business. Following posts at MIT and its management school, he headed IT initiatives at the U.S. government's defence research and technology agency. He joined Intel in 1999 to boost long-term research.

Bryan Semkuley, 43
Global marketing director, InBev, Norwalk, Conn.

“I got to where I am by harnessing, and believing in, the ability of the people around me, and believing that I don't have all the answers.”

Bryan Semkuley almost blew his chance for a career in the brewing industry before it began. In 1981, he was offered a summer job promoting Labatt beer, but couldn't take it because it meant leaving his University of Calgary football team. Fortunately, Labatt offered him the job again the following summer — beginning a 24-year run with the company. (In 1995, Labatt merged with Belgian giant Interbrew, now known as InBev.) Today, Semkuley is responsible for the global brand strategy for powerhouse Beck's, and two less-well-known European lagers, Löwenbräu and Staropramen. He oversees more than 50 local brand managers around the world. It's a big step up for Semkuley, who took the job in January after four years as vice-president of marketing for Labatt U.S., during which time he was named one of the world's top 50 marketers by Advertising Age. Semkuley's personal favourite of the world's beers? Kokanee, a Canadian brand.

Berit Henriksen, 51
Executive vice-president, international corporates and institutions, DnB NOR Bank ASA, Oslo, Norway

“Norwegians usually hold back a bit. I've always been a little more outspoken, not so afraid.”

Berit Henriksen's career aspirations were buoyed by a childhood spent on Canada's coastlines. Born in Halifax, the executive with DnB NOR, Norway's largest financial services institution and a global player in the shipping industry, moved to Vancouver when she was five, after her father, a former lieutenant commander in the Norwegian squadron of the British navy, took a job in the marine equipment business.

With the sea in her blood, Henriksen travelled to Norway to learn the language after finishing an MBA in 1978; she moved there three years later to take a job with a product tanker firm. She joined DnB in 1985 as assistant general manager of its shipping division. “In Norway, shipping is a very traditional business and [my peers] weren't quite used to a woman,” says Henriksen. After six years with DnB in New York, Henriksen returned to Norway in 1996. Her responsibilities include the firm's energy, pulp and paper, and telecommunications portfolios. Would she ever give up Canadian citizenship? Henriksen's response is absolute. “Who in their right mind would give that up?”

Larry Light, 63
Executive vice-president and global chief marketing officer, McDonald's Corp., Oak Brook, Ill.

“It's impossible to learn too much.”

Putting the bite back into McDonald's has been a supersize task for Larry Light. Faced with sluggish U.S. sales growth and criticism of the restaurant's menu options, the former advertising exec launched the global “I'm lovin' it” campaign in September 2003. To give the fast-food Goliath a “common voice” in more than 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries, Light signed on such high-profile celebrities as Justin Timberlake and Chinese-born NBA basketball star Yao Ming to endorse the brand.

Eighteen months later, Light, a Montreal native who holds dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship, says, “We're cool.” As the golden arches show signs of recovery, evidenced by increased sales across all geographic segments, McDonald's execs are hoping for more of the same in the year ahead. What's not to love about that?

Maureen Kempston Darkes, 56
Group-vice president and president of GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East region (LAAM), General Motors, Miramar, Fla.

“There are country cultures and there are company cultures. You can make a difference.”

Canadians are taking over the place, Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of General Motors, has joked. He could reinforce his point by mentioning Ray Young, head of GM Brazil, or Simon Boag, who runs operations in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Or he could point straight at their boss, Maureen Kempston Darkes, who is one of just four General Motors regional presidents, not to mention head of GM LAAM, which employs 24,000 people in more than 10 countries. “I seem to live my life on a plane,” says the Toronto native, who went on the LAAM in 2002 after eight years as head of GM Canada, where she boosted revenue to $42 billion from about $25 billion.

Matthew Barrett, 60
Chairman, Barclays PLC, London

“Canadian banks are landlocked in an indigenous market with a poison pill in their stock. The obvious answer is to permit more consolidation.”

Last September, Matthew Barrett, best known in Canada for his role as CEO of Bank of Montreal, took the curtain call at his current employer, London-based Barclays PLC, after more than five years as chief executive. But the Irish-born banker didn't leave the building, agreeing to stay on as part-time chairman. Under Barrett's direction, Barclays posted four of its most profitable years ever, while 20% of its income now comes from its global operations. Considering the Canadian government ban on bank mergers, it's little wonder he went abroad.

Anne Bélec, 42
President and CEO, Volvo Cars of North America, Irvine, Calif.

“When you move to a country where you can't read the road signs, you learn a lot about your ability to adapt.”

While growing up in a large family in the northern Quebec city of Rouyn-Noranda, Anne Bélec picked up a few tips about getting ahead. “You learn to compete for your parents' attention and the last piece of pie on the table,” says the Duke University MBA graduate. Bélec, whose experience includes a stint with Volvo in Sweden, adds, “My parents instilled in me a work ethic — to leave a job in better shape than when I got it.” Bélec officially steps into her role on April 1 and has her work cut out for her: Volvo Cars of North America is coming off yet another record year in sales.

James Richardson, 47
Chief marketing officer, Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif.

“Working for multinational subsidiaries had given me a good level of experience, but the headquarters of any multinational company is where it happens.”

In May 1990, James Richardson gambled his career. The Kingston, Ont., native was a director at Unisys Corp. in Toronto, but he wanted to move to San Jose, Calif., to work for Internet networking firm Cisco, fresh off its IPO. Instead, he was hired to launch Cisco's Canadian regional office in Toronto. It was a step down, but within two years the company elevated him to vice-president of intercontinental operations, the first of several positions he's held around the globe. In August 2001, Richardson became Cisco's chief marketing officer. Today, he won't discuss replacing CEO John Chambers, his mentor, but the Canadian is a possible successor.