Occupation: Chairman and CEO, United Continental Holdings
Everyone loves to gripe about the airline industry (been delayed at O’Hare lately?). But this full-throttle CEO moved up the list (from No. 21 last year) after helping his massive company shake its merger hangover and handily beat the Street (UAL stock was up 90 percent for the 12 months ending January 31). Granted, luck was a factor: Competitors American and US Airways got stranded in their own merger hell, and the thawing economy boosted travel spending. But the confident Harvard grad worked some magic, too, improving on his West Coast hub, investing in 150 shiny new airliners, and opening up additional routes to China.