Business hotshots who are under 40

Business hotshots who are under 40

They’re the hottest young stars in business across the globe. They’re innovators, disrupters, and job creators; in fact, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re going to be working for them someday — if you aren’t already! They’re in technology, yes, but also in movies, music, athletic wear, and even curry-flavored chocolate. And the scary thing is they’re just getting started.

1. Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg
 Founder and CEO, Facebook
Age: 27
Industry: Technology

This may have been the year your grandmother joined Facebook. The Harvard dropout and tech wizard is a household name, thanks in part to The Social Network, but the real-life script is still being written. In 2011 his baby hit 800 million users and was valued at $50 billion, setting the stage for a monster IPO to come. The company also partnered with Skype and redesigned key parts of its service, leading to the usual temporary backlash.On the hunt: Zuck made headlines earlier this year when he told Fortune his goal for 2011 was to eat only animals he had personally killed.

2. Larry Page
Larry Page


Co-founder and CEO, Google
Age: 38
Industry: Technology
Since retaking the reins at Google last April, the introverted Page has won praise for making some fast decisions — and big acquisitions. He’s cut back on nonessential projects, while plowing resources into Facebook competitor Google. Ad-driven revenue is stronger than ever — in July the company reported record-breaking quarterly earnings. But with nearly 30,000 employees across some 30 countries, steering the search giant back to its nimbler roots won’t be easy. Even Page recently admitted Google’s biggest threat is, well, Google
Net worth: Page is now worth some $17 billion
3. Greg Jensen
Greg Jensen


Co-CEO and co-CIO, Bridgewater Associates
Age: 37

Industry:FinanceJensen’s work overseeing research at the world’s largest hedge fund (assets under management: $125 billion) has paid off. Bridgewater’s flagship fund is up 25%, while many marquee names are losing money. Jensen also oversaw the rollout of the $10 billion fund Pure Alpha Major Markets in June. Jensen, who started at Bridgewater as an intern while at Dartmouth, believes the firm’s unusual culture (articulated by founder Ray Dalio in the form of 300 self-help principles) is the key to the firm’s success — and his own.

4. Aditya Mittal
Aditya Mittal


CFO, ArcelorMittal
Age: 35
Industry: Industrial
He’s more than just the son of his company’s billionaire founder: The finance whiz helped build the world’s biggest steel group through acquisitions — and is now helping run it. This year he assumed responsibility for European operations, the company’s largest division, and he just returned from the Arctic, where the company’s new iron ore mine is one of billions of dollars’ worth of new projects.Media diet: He reads the state-controlled China Daily every day “to get perspective on how they are framing the news.”

5. John Arnold
John Arnold


Founder, Centaurus Energy
Age: 37
Industry: Finance
The trading star who cut his teeth at Enron turned a talent for reading the notoriously fickle gas markets into an estimated $4 billion hedge fund fortune. He’s bounced back from his first-ever down year, with his flagship fund up about 4%, and invests in natural-gas storage caverns and power plants, turning Centaurus into a diversified energy firm some have likened to a mini-Enron. Billionaire props include an art-filled modernist mansion in Houston and a foundation to support overhauling America’s pension system.Spare time: Arnold is said to be a Dave Matthews and U2 fan.

6. Brian Deese
Brian Deese

Deputy director, National Economic Council
Age: 33
Industry: Government

A driving force behind the auto bailouts, the Obama administration’s most unalloyed win to date, Deese cemented his wunderkind status on the White House economic team by building the case against liquidating Chrysler. Now the Yale Law graduate claims an even bigger portfolio — ranging from Wall Street reform to housing finance — and the President’s full attention. When Obama decamped for Martha’s Vineyard in August, Deese went along to help him craft his new jobs plan.Linguistic pet peeve: When people confuse “further” and “farther.” (“Don’t know why, but it drives me nuts.”)

7. Daniel Ammann
Daniel Ammann


CFO, General Motors
Age: 39
Industry: Automotive

Last fall Ammann spent weeks on the road persuading investors to buy General Motors stock. Now he’s working to keep them happy. The native New Zealander advised GM for years as a Morgan Stanley banker before taking over as CFO this spring. His job today: making sure the automaker stays profitable in any market — historically a tough task for GM. “We’re off to a good start,” says Ammann, who splits his time between Detroit and New York City; this year GM has earned $6.3 billion in a humdrum economy.Least favorite business term: “End-to-end solution.”

8. Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey

Co-founder and executive chairman, Twitter; co-founder and CEO, Square
Age: 34
Industry: Technology

Dorsey’s comeback is a classic Valley tale: After being ousted as CEO of Twitter in 2008, he returned to the company he helped found to lead product development (and clean house — four of Twitter’s key product execs reportedly left in July). He continues to run Square, his hyper-hot mobile-payments startup, which has shipped more than 800,000 of its credit card readers and recently closed a $100 million round of funding, giving it a valuation north of $1 billion.Relaxation technique: Dorsey is a big fan of going for walks; he also takes “microvacations,” driving on Sundays to nearby Point Reyes or Big Sur.

9. Jeff George
Jeff George


Global head of Sandoz, Novartis
Age: 38
Industry: Consumer Products

Since joining Novartis in 2007, George, a former international-relations student and McKinsey consultant, has shot up the ranks at the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant. After stints in the company’s vaccine and emerging-markets divisions, he was tapped in 2008 to lead Sandoz, the company’s massive generics unit, whose $8.5 billion in revenue makes it the world’s second-biggest generics operation after Israel’s Teva. With George at the helm, Sandoz has posted double-digit revenue growth and made big gains in the field of biosimilars, or generic versions of complex drugs.Stress reliever: Meditates each morning and runs three to four times a week.

10. Sid Sankaran
Sid Sankaran


Chief risk officer, AIG
Age: 34
Industry: Finance

The financial crisis proved that AIG had no clothes — or at least no controls. Now it’s up to Sankaran, a Canadian math hotshot (his degree from the University of Waterloo was in actuarial sciences) and former partner at consultancy Oliver Wyman, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Sankaran declined AIG at first; today, as chief risk officer, he oversees the billions flowing among disparate insurance operations and reports to CEO Robert Benmosche if something suspicious rears its head.
11. Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin


Co-founder, Google
Age: 38
Industry: Technology

After sharing responsibility for Google’s day-to-day operations for 10 years, Brin and Larry Page are officially decoupled — on this list and at the Googleplex. With Page running the show, Google’s other golden boy now devotes his time to special projects, many of them in stealth mode.Cutting loose: Billionaire Brin is apparently having some fun too. His Google page shows newly uploaded photos of himself skydiving and scuba diving in Egypt’s Red Sea. He has also invested $5 million in a Virginia-based space tourism company and is waiting for his private ride into space.

12. Kevin Plank
Kevin Plank


Founder and CEO, Under Armour
Age: 39
Industry: Apparel

In 2011 sports apparel whiz Kevin Plank took Under Armour past the billion-dollar mark (2011 projected revenue: $1.44 billion) only 15 years after starting the company as a college undergrad. The brand has become a key player that, while much smaller than Nike overall, has the giant on guard in compression apparel and plenty of other markets. This year Under Armour will push its new footwear campaign with Tom Brady and Cam Newton.First job: Shoveling snow at age 10. “Most kids were screaming and excited on snow days, but once I got up, it was time to grab a shovel and go see the lady with the cats down the street.”

13. Ryan Seacrest
Ryan Seacrest

Radio/TV host; CEO, Ryan Seacrest Productions
Age: 36
Industry: Hollywood

It’s almost surprising that Ryan Seacrest still works the gig that made him famous — hosting American Idol — considering how much he’s branched out into other business ventures. The Georgia-born TV and radio host boasts a handful of full-time jobs, including hosting E! Newsand running Ryan Seacrest Productions. At the moment he has 19 TV projects in the works, as well as a sweeping deal with Comcast and a new international radio syndication deal with Clear Channel Communications.Starmaker: The world has Seacrest to thank (or blame) for the Kardashian Kraze; it was he who first pitched the family’s show to E!.

14. Cesar Conde
Cesar Conde


President, Univision Networks
Age: 37
Industry: Media

The Spanish-language network Conde helms is nipping at the toes of its bigger U.S. rivals. Currently ranked fifth overall, Univision has consistently bested its competitors in attracting adult viewers. Since becoming president in 2009, Conde has unveiled two original telenovelas, or soap operas, and three new cable networks. The Wharton grad is passionate about education; he joined forces with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch Es el Momento, a program that focuses on helping Hispanic students.Pet peeve: Egos.

15. Michael Hasenstab
Michael Hasenstab


Portfolio manager, Franklin Templeton
Age: 38

Industry:FinanceFrom an unlikely perch outside San Francisco, the soft-spoken economics Ph.D. manages one of the largest bond and currency portfolios in the mutual fund world. Just this year investors have poured $12 billion — yes, billion — into Hasenstab’s Templeton Global Bond Fund; since he started managing it a decade ago, Hasenstab has turned the fund into a $60 billion powerhouse with double-digit annual gains while making huge contrarian bets. (He hasn’t owned a cent of the world’s largest bond market — U.S. debt — for years.)

Stress reliever: He recently climbed Denali.

16. Kevin Feige
Kevin Feige


President, Marvel Studios
Age: 38
Industry: Hollywood

Kevin Feige has his dream job. As Marvel’s studio head, he plans, casts, and produces big-budget movies based on the superheroes he loved reading about as a kid. “I’m certainly pleased I’ve been able to fulfill a promise to my 8-year-old self,” he says. He’s the mind behind the Iron Man franchise, as well as this summer’s Thor and Captain America, which both banked nearly $70 million on opening weekend. Next up: The Avengers.Right place, right time: While a film student at the University of Southern California, Feige wandered up to the second floor of the George Lucas building and saw an internship posting. “That was the last résumé I ever filled out,” he says.

17. David Rhodes
David Rhodes


President, CBS News
Age: 37
Industry: Media

A new TV spot for CBS News concludes, “Hey, it’s not like we invented original reporting on television. Oh, wait — yes, we did.” The man behind the ad is David Rhodes, the network’s new, young-gun president, who believes its roots lie in programming like 60 Minutes. Known for his focus on hard news, after rising fast at Fox News, he was tapped to run Bloomberg TV before moving on to CBS, whose viewers, Rhodes believes, expect “the experienced, globetrotting correspondent.”Pet peeve: Humorlessness. “All day long you meet people who take themselves too seriously. Humor is how reasonable people cope.”

18. Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek


Founder and CEO, Spotify
Age: 28
Industry: Music

If you’ve suddenly learned your colleague listens to Avril Lavigne, you have Ek to thank. The Swedish brainiac first launched Spotify, which allows you to stream music on your desktop (and, for a small fee, on mobile devices) in 2008 in Europe. It finally made it to the U.S. in July, opening with a bang — and with a close Facebook partnership that aims to make streaming social. “Our dream is to make all the world’s music available instantly to everyone.” That’s a tall order, but already Spotify enjoys a billion- dollar valuation.Sandman: Ek spent his last vacation doing archery and driving dune buggies in Dubai.

19. Barry Silbert & Boaz Weinstein (tie)
Barry Silbert & Boaz Weinstein (tie)

Barry Silbert (l) and Boaz Weinstein


Silbert: Founder and CEO, SecondMarket
Age: 35
Industry: Finance

His private-market trading platform leaped into the public eye when shares of Facebook zoomed, but the firm has been trading illiquid assets of all kinds since 2005. It’s on pace to handle $600 million in private company transactions this year, up from $100 million in 2009.Weinstein: Founder, Saba Capital
Age: 38
Industry: Finance

The credit-trading prodigy has had one of the most successful hedge fund launches since the crash, raising $4.2 billion in two years. As hedgie legends stumble, Weinstein’s run continues: His flagship fund gained 7% this year and his tail risk fund jumped 34%.

20. Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer


VP, Google
Age: 36
Industry: Technology

Mayer started at Google 12 years ago as the then-startup’s first female engineer. Today that makes her an old-timer by Google standards. In addition to overseeing local and mapping products like Google Earth, Street View, Google Maps, and local search, Mayer spearheaded the company’s recent Zagat acquisition. Mayer has also expanded her influence outside Google: She’s an angel investor in startups like Minted, One Kings Lane, and Square; she also hosted Obama in her home for a 2010 political fundraiser.Travel ritual: She prefers redeyes.

21. Raj Shah
Raj Shah


Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Age: 38
Industry:GovernmentThe American foreign-aid chief faced his first major crisis just days after his swearing-in, when an earthquake wrought biblical-scale destruction in Haiti. There has been no shortage of international challenges since, but the University of Pennsylvania-trained doctor and MBA is at least as focused on internal reforms to a notoriously inefficient bureaucracy. Applying the entrepreneurial discipline he learned at the Gates Foundation, Shah is working to reorient American foreign aid toward sustainable, private-sector approaches.

Big fan of: American sports cars. (His father worked for Ford.)

22. Ryan Kavanaugh
Ryan Kavanaugh


CEO, Relativity Media
Age: 36
Industry:MediaKavanaugh gained fame in Hollywood for raising billions from Wall Street to produce moneymaking hits like Talladega Nights and Zombieland. Now he’s trying his hand as a studio head, turning Relativity into a full-blown studio that uses risk-assessment algorithms to try to pick moneymakers. His plan: to make profitable movies without the expensive overhead of older studios and their costly layers of business development. “The guys who run studios are my friends,” he says, “but I’m saying, `Your business model is broken.’ ”

Next project: Producing Julia Roberts as the evil queen in Snow White.

23. Libby Wadle
Libby Wadle


Executive vice president, retail and direct, J. Crew
Age: 38

Industry:ApparelJ. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler surprised many this spring when he named Wadle as a potential successor. But Wadle, a retail savant who honed her skills at Gap and Coach, has been stealthily climbing the ladder at J. Crew for years. She’s shown a knack for growing new concepts, like the outlet division (she doubled its store count and tripled its sales) and Madewell, J. Crew’s buzzy sister brand. Wadle now runs the preppy clothier’s entire retail division and its direct-sales operation. In other words, the top spot keeps getting closer.

Dream job: Broadway musical actor.

24. Franz Koch
Franz Koch


CEO, Puma
Age: 32
Industry: Apparel
Koch beat out a field of 100 candidates to become CEO of the iconic German sportswear brand. If he seems young for the job, consider this: His predecessor, Jochen Zeitz, became CEO when he was just 30. Zeitz, who went on to lead Puma for 18 years, says he picked Koch, previously the head of global strategy at the business, because of his “exceptionally analytical yet most pragmatic mind” (yes, they’re both German). Koch has the right credentials to lead the business: A former professional field hockey player, he’s a surfing, biking, and skiing enthusiast.
25. Bonin Bough
Bonin Bough


Senior global director of digital and social media, PepsiCo
Age: 33
Industry:Consumer ProductsIf the self-described nerd hadn’t started freelancing as a programmer after college to make extra cash, Bough would have ended up with a master’s in political philosophy. Instead, he spent nearly a decade building web strategies for Fortune 500 companies at outside agencies. Three years ago he jumped to PepsiCo, where he runs the team that focuses on digital and social media.

Best advice: Mentor as much as you can. “I’ll speak at an event, and there will be a line afterward, and I make sure I talk to every single person. That’s where you learn. That’s where you get the best idea.”

26. Mona Mourshed
Mona Mourshed


Partner, Middle East office, and global education lead, McKinsey
Age: 39

Industry:ConsultingThe MIT Ph.D. wears two hats at McKinsey: In 2005 she became the first female elected partner in the firm’s Middle East office, and this summer she was named head of the firm’s worldwide education practice. Her influence is far-reaching: Research she started in 2010 on the connection between youth employment and education in the Arab world took on a heightened level of importance amid the Arab Spring. Her work extends beyond the Middle East; she explores topics ranging from school system reform to vocational training in Latin America and Asia as well.

27. Andrew Mason
Andrew Mason


Founder and CEO, Groupon
Age: 31

Industry:TechnologyIt’s been a rollercoaster year for Mason and his daily deal darling. In February, Groupon’s Super Bowl ad drew fire for using Tibetans as a punch line. Its June IPO filing drew scrutiny from regulators (and raised eyebrows from everyone else) for unconventional accounting practices — leading to a change that cut reported revenue in half. Merchants are uneasy, competitors are gaining ground, and the public seems to be tiring of Mason’s cheeky humor. But he gets props from us for inventing a category, and Groupon’s 115 million subscribers and 92 million deals to date still make him the king of the market

28. Dennis Crowley & Rio Caraeff (tie)
Dennis Crowley & Rio Caraeff (tie)

Dennis Crowley (l) and Rio Caraeff


Crowley: Co-founder and CEO, Foursquare

 Age: 35
Industry:TechnologyMany thought Facebook would doom Crowley’s location-based software, but in the past year he’s grown it from 3.7 million to more than 10 million users, signed up a half-million merchants, partnered with American Express — and added President Obama as a user.

Caraeff: President and CEO, Vevo
Age: 36
Industry: Music

This year the music video site he runs has gone mobile and produced original programming; it also hit 800 million monthly views, nearly double from a year ago. It doesn’t hurt that MTV, once Vevo’s biggest threat, has, Caraeff says, “moved on to The Jersey Shore.”

 29. Drew Houston & Arash Ferdowsi

Drew Houston & Arash Ferdowsi


Houston: Co-founder and CEO, Dropbox
Age: 28

 Ferdowsi: Co-founder and CTO, Dropbox
Age:26Industry: Technology

Silicon Valley is teeming with startups, but few manage to attract over 25 million users in less than four years, as Houston (an MIT alum) and Ferdowsi (an MIT dropout) have with Dropbox, a service that lets users store and share documents and photos in the cloud. Despite growing competition, Houston and Ferdowsi’s college project has been growing like a weed — 300 million files are saved to Dropbox each day, more than the number of tweets posted to Twitter per day.

Hobbies: Houston was in a ’90s cover band in college; Ferdowsi is an avid Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) player.

30. Salman Khan
Salman Khan


Founder and executive director, Khan Academy
Age: 35

Industry:NonprofitSince we profiled the hedge funder turned online educator a year ago, growth has exploded: 200,000 unique users per month have turned into more than 3 million; people have viewed his virtual tutorials some 70 million times and completed 100 million exercises. His staff has grown to 17, and he’s now putting his lessons in brick-and-mortar schools with a pilot program in California, where 50 classrooms are using his platform as their core math curriculum.

Stage star: Khan’s 2011 talk and follow-up interview with Bill Gates was one of the most buzzed-about sessions at this year’s TED conference.

 31. Tony Hsieh & Charles Best (tie)
Tony Hsieh & Charles Best (tie)

Tony Hsieh (l) and Charles Best


Hsieh: CEO,
Age: 38

 Industry:ApparelHsieh still runs Zappos, but he’s attained guru status when it comes to building workplaces: His “Delivering happiness” message is now the basis for a bestselling book and a company that exports his philosophy to giants like P&G and Hasbro.

Latest move: Investing in private jet outfit JetSuite.

Best: Founder,
Age: 36
Industry: Nonprofit

Donations for Best’s nonprofit, which raises funds for public school classrooms, are on track for $40 million this school year, nearly double from two years ago, and now total $90 million since 2000. Last year his gift card was among Oprah’s “ultimate favorite things.”

32. John Janick & Mike Caren
John Janick & Mike Caren

John Janick (l) and Mike Caren
Janick: Co-president, Elektra Records
Age: 33
Caren: Co-president, Elektra Records Age:34Industry: Music

Janick has been a tastemaker since high school, when the record label he started, Fueled by Ramen, signed bands like Less Than Jake and Fall Out Boy. It gained acclaim and earned the notice of Atlantic Records, which hired him and urban A&R wizard Mike Caren to bring defunct record label Elektra, shuttered in 2004, back to life for Warner Music Group. With the help of artists like Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green, both on the verge of being international superstars, they’ve done it.

First jobs: Janick was a tennis instructor; Caren worked in a baseball card shop.

33. Erin Burnett
Erin Burnett


Host, CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront
Age: 35

Industry:MediaThere’s a reason HBO’s Too Big to Fail used repeated clips of Erin Burnett’s reporting to create a background narration of Lehman’s fall: She is TV’s business bard. Market watchers know her from CNBC, but earlier this year she moved to CNN, where she’s been given her own primetime news program, Erin Burnett OutFront. She still has her eye on the markets but plans to also cover global stories. “I think America has a higher tolerance for international news than the industry has assumed,” she says.

Loss of a mentor: Burnett says her friendship with CNBC co-host Mark Haines, who died this year, was crucial to her growth.

34. Blake Mycoskie
Blake Mycoskie


Founder and chief shoe giver, Toms
Age: 35

Industry:ApparelIn 2006, Mycoskie, a serial entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas, was on a trip in South America, where he both witnessed children in poverty and discovered the alpargata, a unique rope-soled shoe worn by Argentine farmers. He returned to the U.S. with a duffel bag full of the shoes and an idea: Toms Shoes would donate a pair of the shoes to a child in need for every pair it sells. Five years later he’s sold 2 million pairs through 1,000 stores, including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, in 30 countries around the world — and the shoes have become hipster uniform.

Latest act: A new line of eyewear — and a bestselling book.

35. Carolyn Everson
Carolyn Everson


VP, global marketing solutions, Facebook
Age: 39
Industry:TechnologyThe sales superstar was handpicked by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg last March after just nine months at the helm of Microsoft’s global advertising group. In her new role Everson oversees relationships with Facebook’s most important “friends” — big-name brands like Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble — and manages more than 300 advertising execs across the globe. While the social-networking site is expected to bring in an estimated $4 billion in advertising revenue this year, Everson’s role isn’t limited to selling ads. She also helps companies utilize Facebook’s platform by adding “like” buttons to their websites and developing a social media strategy.

36. Dan Yates & Alex Laskey
Dan Yates & Alex Laskey

Dan Yates (l) and Alex Laskey


Yates: CEO, co-founder, Opower
Age: 34

Laskey: President, co-founder, Opower Age: 34
Industry: Green

Yates and Laskey want to save the planet. They first met as undergraduates at Harvard and came together in 2007 to launch Opower, a software startup that generates detailed electricity-use reports — distributed through electric and gas utilities — to help homeowners reduce energy consumption. So far Yates and Laskey have been handed nearly $70 million in funding from the likes of Accel Partners and Kleiner Perkins, reach 10 million homes, and say they’ve saved people over $50 million on electricity bills.

iThermostat: Opower just partnered with Honeywell to offer thermostats controlled by mobile devices.

37. Tor Myhren
Tor Myhren


President and chief creative officer, Grey New York
Age: 39
Industry: Advertising
In 2006, Myhren hit a career low point when he lost the $300 million Cadillac account for Leo Burnett after an embarrassing Super Bowl spot involving an Escalade as a runway model. But his work had been spotted by Grey Group CEO Jim Heekin, who brought him to New York. Two months later he was in the top creative slot, and Grey began a series of major hits, including E*Trade’s dancing baby and Ellen DeGeneres for CoverGirl. Last year Myhren was promoted to president of Grey New York, making him the first-ever creative executive to lead the agency — and the most powerful person on Madison Avenue under 40.Best advice: “Don’t be afraid to make heroic failures.”

38. Scott Harrison
Scott Harrison


Founder and CEO, Charity:water
Age: 36
Industry: Nonprofit
Scott Harrison, a former Manhattan nightclub promoter, has propelled his five-year-old group, Charity:water, into the national spotlight with astonishing speed. In its first year it raised $1 million. This year it is expected to bring in $26 million, for a grand total of $46 million that it says has helped bring clean water to 2 million people in developing countries. With a name-drop from President Obama and 1.4 million Twitter followers, Harrison says the charity’s major obstacle now is finding the equipment to dig more wells faster.
39. Kevin Systrom
Kevin Systrom


CEO, Instagram
Age: 27

Industry:TechnologyHaving launched only a year ago, “Instagram” is already part of the general lexicon. The multipurpose app — it alters photos, organizes them, and enables a wide range of sharing options on its own Twitter-like network — has quickly amassed 11 million users. By the nine-month point, users had shared 150 million pictures. Systrom co-founded the company with Mike Krieger after he joined Systrom’s previous mobile sharing app, Burbn.

Tech in the genes: Systrom’s mother worked at during the first startup boom, and now she’s a category director at Zipcar.

40. Katrina Markoff
Katrina Markoff


Founder and CEO, Vosges Haut-Chocolat
Age: 38

Industry:Consumer ProductsWhile a student at Le Cordon Bleu in France, Markoff started mixing chocolate with unlikely flavors like curry, taleggio, and wasabi. In 1998 she opened her first store in Chicago, and her combinations caught on; within a year she was in Neiman Marcus. Mail-order and catalogue sales followed; now Vosges is sold in 2,000 stores (including eight of its own boutiques) and has spawned competitors (Godiva is said to have attempted several Vosges-like products), and this year, after multiple requests from Wal-Mart and Target, Markoff launched a lower-priced line for mass merchants.

Favorite gadget: Mortar and pestle.

 Source: CNN Money

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