Unilever CEO Paul Polman tops Brand Learning’s list of global growth leaders

Surveys of businesses and business leaders generally state the bleedin’ obvious; sometimes lionising examples of both who turn out some time later to have feet of clay. But Brand Learning has produced an interesting spin on it, majoring on people and companies who drive growth. Brand Learning describes itself as a “capability development consultancy.” It has offices in New York, London and Singapore.

The Growth Drivers Study is based on questions to over 900 business leaders in 42 countries (including a fair smattering of CMOs) with 72 extended interviews with the likes of Beam Suntory, BT, Diageo, Dyson, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Pernod Ricard, Thompson Reuters, Unilever and Virgin Media. Some of whose executives appear in the list.

So the top ten most admired business people growth-wise (some of them are no longer in post and, in one famous case, no longer with us) are:

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO
Sir Richard Branson
Steve Jobs
Gavin Patterson, BT CEO
Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media CEO
A.G. Lafley, former P&G CEO
Allan Leighton, former Asda CEO
Amy Hood, Microsoft CFO
Ana Botin, executive chairman of Santander
Angela Ahrendts, Apple, senior VP, retail & online store

And companies:

Procter & Gamble
General Electric

Unilever-Paul-PolmanAll rather predictable although Paul Polman/Unilever (left) have done well in lists mostly dominated by US tech or digital companies.

Brand Learning co-founder and group CEO Mhairi McEwan says: “Organisations need leaders who can create growth among heightened and often competing demands, fuelling momentum behind their goals. The people highlighted by their peers as the cream of the crop when it comes to growth are all known for their success and growth-driving behaviour.

“The Growth Drivers Study highlights those companies that have embraced a new model for growth. The senior leaders we interviewed have identified the organisations with an approach they respect: companies that constantly tune their capabilities to create a growth-ready organisation energised by involved employees and fuelled by momentum-driving leadership.

“The inclusion of companies like Uber and Airbnb, which have yet to make the usual top tens of the biggest brands, also shows that business leaders admire companies willing to break the mould and grow quickly by disrupting existing markets.”

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