Jeff Smisek

AGE: 57
OCCUPATION: CEO, United Continental Holdings

Chicago’s place in the global economy relies on its role as a transportation hub—and thus on this Harvard grad, who stepped up from the better-managed Continental side of the 2010 merger. The next test of his power will be whether he can smooth over relations with United’s 46,000 embittered workers and capitalize on the best route system in the world.

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Photograph: Dave Einsel/Chicago Tribune