Second-in-Command at 25 Iconic American Companies

Warren Buffett. Mark Zuckerberg. Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos.

We know these CEOs, and the companies they run. These men are global icons. But they don’t work alone. In some cases, they have many thousands of people working under them. Today, we’re only curious about one of those people—who’s number two?

We present facts about the people in succession at top companies over time.

Clearly, these executives have varied backgrounds and life experiences. Let’s look at a few stand outs:

Sheryl Sandberg is the only female on the list. Before joining Facebook, Sandberg worked for U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and for Google, as vice president of global online sales. In 2008, she was recruited by Mark Zuckerberg to help make Facebook profitable. She has served as COO since. Given Sandberg’s exhaustive list of responsibilities at Facebook, which include managing everything from sales to human resources to public policy, one would think she’s an ideal candidate to be number one at just about any company in America.

David J. Bronczek, president and COO of FedEx, lays claim to an impressive story of climbing the corporate ladder. In fact, Bronczek didn’t even start on the ladder! He started as an hourly employee, in 1976, at a shipping facility. Needless to say, among other things, Bronczek’s paychecks have grown since then. He’s now paid $6 million, annually.

Two of the executives on our list are from New Zealand: Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart, has a degree from New Zealand Institute of Management, and Dan Ammann, president of General Motors, has a degree from University of Waikato, also in New Zealand. Other international players include Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, who earned a degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in India, and Martin Jetter, senior vice president for IBM Global Technology Services, who earned a degree from the University of Stuttgart, in Germany.

Another notable executive on our list is A.C. Gallo, president and COO of Whole Foods. Gallo is unique not just because he has a long tenure with Whole Foods—dating back to when the company was a small, regional grocer in the health foods niche, but also because Gallo plays an active role in advocating for the company’s social and ecological values, by overseeing animal welfare standards, a sustainable seafood rating system, and the company’s commitment to full GMO transparency.

Despite the variety of roles occupied by these executives, and their diverse origin stories, there naturally exists an average profile across the group. If you had to pick an executive randomly, it’s likely they’d have spent 20+ years with their company, have occupied their current role for at least five years, have an undergraduate or graduate degree from Harvard, and have earned about $17 million in 2016.

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