Is Pablo Isla the best non-family CEO of a family business in the world?


Pablo Isla is the CEO of Inditex, the sprawling clothing empire owned by Amancio Ortega and his family most famous for its Zara brand. Isa is also the third best-performing CEO in the world, according to a recent survey by the Harvard Business Review.

Inditex is the first family business on the Harvard list so that effectively makes Isla the top ranked non-family CEO of a family business. A lawyer by training, Isla joined Inditex in 2005 as deputy chairman and was appointed CEO and chairman of Inditex in 2011.

Other notable CEOs with family business links on the list included Kasper Rorsted, who is also chairman of the executive board of the German family-owned multinational Henkel; Martin Bouygues, who heads up the French multinational Bouygues: Sergio Marchionne of Fiat; Bernard Arnault of Christian Dior, Norbert Reithofer of BMW and W.Galen Weston of George Weston.

The HBR measured the long-term financial results of the companies managed by CEOs as well as their economic, social and governance performance to come up with the ranking.

Interestingly, one name managed to get on the list just in time – Martin Winterkorn of VW. He, of course, was forced to resign a few weeks ago after it was revealed that the car maker was installing software in many of its cars to give false emission readings. Winterkorn is unlikely to make next year’s list, which shows how even right at the top of the corporate ladder permanency is far from guaranteed.


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