Who are the 100 Best-Performing CEOs in China? See What Harvard Business Review Says


Original Article2016-11-08HBR-ChinaHarvard Business Review

The List of 100 Best-Performing CEOs of 2016 and thematic contents are co-provided by Harvard Business Review China and BMW.

Since 2010, the English version of Harvard Business Review has published the List of 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World for five times. Compared with other media outlets, Harvard Business Review focuses on two aspects when selecting the list winners: one is to evaluate the enterprise leaders rather than the enterprise itself; another is to give attention to the long-term performance of entrepreneurs rather than the short-term one.

In 2016, research teams from both the English and Chinese versions ofHarvard Business Reviewreleased the List of 100 Best-Performing CEOs in China for the first time. We decide to inherit and continue the spirit of the English version and adopt scientific methods based on objective data rather than fame or hearsay to judge the performance of entrepreneurs. What we are concerned with are shareholder returns and market value changes, and we track and analyze the performance of CEOs from their first day of duty.

The best calculation method for CEO ranking (List of CEOs in China)

To complete the List of 100 Best-Performing CEOs in China, we evaluated all listed companies in this country (including companies issuing public offerings in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Taiwan, New York and Nasdaq Stock Market). Each company we selected should get its market value, assets and incomes exceeding RMB 10 billion respectively at the end of 2015. Then, we investigated each company’s CEO whichwas still on duty by April 30, 2016. To ensure that the assessment waswell-founded and well-documented, we disqualified the CEOs without a full two-year term on their posts. Finally, a total of 358 CEOs from 357 companies (among which two CEOs serve in a same company) have been selected.

Members of our research team came from Harvard Business Review China and INSEAD. Companies selecting and information of CEOs were under the charge of Harvard Business Review China; data analysis was monitored by Nana von Bernuth from INSEAD, and backed up by MorandStuder and Gustavo Sophia, two data programmers from Eleven Strategy & Management.

For CEOs taking offices before 2000, we calculated the earnings starting from January 1, 2000, since many Chinese companies lacked enough data before this date.

The research team evaluated three indicators for each CEO during their tenures of the office: Total shareholder returns after the change of listing locations (including dividend reinvestment), which excluded the growth driven by the overall growth of the stock market at the company’s listing location; Total shareholder returns after industrial adjustment (including dividend reinvestment), which eliminated the growth promoted by the overall industrial development; market value changes (adjustment based on dividends, share issues and share repurchases), measured in inflation-adjusted dollars.

After that, we ranked all CEOs from the first (highest) to 358th (minimum) in accordance with the above three financial indicators, and the final ranking was generated according to the average value of three times of our ranking. Comprehensive use of the three indicators ensured the carefulness and balance of our assessment method: The first two indicators might be favorable for small companies (Companies with low starting points were more likely to receive significant shareholder returns), while the last indicator was more beneficial to big companies.

Our responsibility is to: provide a list of Chinese entrepreneurs with surpassing annual performance to assess the long-term performance of CEOs of listed companies in China and the long-term value they have created for their shareholders. Starting in April this year and following seven months of research, we finished the finial ranking of the performance of Chinese enterprise leaders. These entrepreneurs on this list are all far-sighted and have created outstanding achievements. Some of them are familiar to you while some will surprise you.

Ma Huateng, President and CEO ofTencent Inc., ranked the first in the list, taking the first place in all indicators we evaluated. Mr. Ma is the sole entrepreneur in mainland China who has been selected as one of the 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World by the English edition of Harvard Business Reviewin the past two years. Under his control, Tencent enjoys the highest market value among Asian companies and has superior performance in terms of both shareholder returns and market value growth. Listed in Hong Kong, China, Tencent currently occupies a total market capitalization over HKD 2 trillion, and the total returns to shareholders during Ma Huateng’s tenure reached 19801%.

100 Best-Performing CEOs in China

Company leaders who chase long-term success should take it for granted that they and their companies should become stronger together. Yuan Renguo, ranking second in the list, has been worked in Kweichow Moutai Group for more than 40 years. With his efforts, Moutai had never resigned its leading position in Chinese liquor industry. The top third in the list was Yu Liang. Since being president of Vanke in 2001, he has put his heart and soul into the company for 15 years to seek further development, making Vanke the world’s largest and the most famous real estate enterprise in China. In addition, according to our statistics, 94 of China’s 100 best-performing CEOs are company founders or employees promoted in the companies and their average tenure is 14 years. These data show that good management requires both time and patience of the leaders.

We found that the total market capitalization of the 100 companies in the list reached RMB 9.29 trillion, equivalent to 1/7 of China’s total GDP in 2015. 54 CEOs are specializing in three major fields, namely information technology, financial service and industry. In sought-after areas like information technology and financial service, there are many entrepreneurs are noted leaders of well-known enterprises. In the industry or some relatively unconversant areas, however, the entrepreneurs in the list may be a little unfamiliar to us, but in obscurity, they also have created eminent performance over the long-term.

In recent years, in spite of the global praise and recognition of women leadership, women remain rare presence in the list of top business leaders. As the List of 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World, women entrepreneurs in the List of 100 Best-Performing CEOs in China were still scarce in this year. Only four included, they were: Dong Mingzhu, Chairwoman of Gree Electric, Wang Laichun, Chairman of Luxshare Precision Industry Co., Ltd., Yang Huaizhen, Chairman of Jiangsu Hiteker High-tech Co., Ltd., and Song Guangju, Chairman of Poly Real Estate Group Co., Ltd. These heroines deserve our applause and compliment.

During our research, the most time-consuming and arduous task is to find a scientific approach to determine “who are the CEOs of Chinese enterprises”. Since most of domestic listed companies have vacancy in CEO, after discussing with INSEAD, our cooperative research institution, we decided to define CEO as “those who have the decision-making right in the company and are responsible for the performance of company”. Therefore, many entrepreneurs in the list are actually chairmen of the company. After judgment, however, we believe that all of them can be called CEOs.

Just as the English version of Harvard Business Reviewdid before the releasing of the List of 100 Best-Performing CEOs in China, we still believe that the objective data should be given the priority although leadership is not only about financial indicators, and shareholders are not the only stakeholders. Because by doing so, it can help readers to value what Chinese entrepreneurs are the honorable “long-term doers” in the last 20 years.



Information about the companies



Information about the companies


Ma Huateng

Tencent Inc.


Zhou Si

Beijing Enterprises Group


Yuan Renguo

GuizhouMoutai Group


Chen Zongnian

Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd.


Yu Liang




Geely Auto


Wang Kaiguo



Zhang Qiansheng

ASE Group



Galaxy Entertainment Group


Wang Laichun

Luxshare Precision Industry Co., Ltd.



Hengan Group



Chicony Electronics






China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd.


Dong Mingzhu

Gree Electric


Yang Yuanqing

Lenovo Group


Li Yanhong



Wang Xinchao



Zhang Jindong

Suning Commerce


Ding Rongjun

CRRC Times Electric Co., Ltd.


Pan Gang

Yili Industrial Group



Zhejiang Longsheng Group


Wan Long

Shuanghui Group


Huang Nanguang

Holtek Semiconductor Inc.


Wang Minghui

Yunnan Baiyao


Zhen Jiachun

New World China Limited





Li Zekai