Who CEO and Chairman, MCI (formerly WorldCom)
Why Watch? As MCI digs out of the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Capellas faces a daunting fight to escape the $11 billion scandal.
Turnaround artist? Mike Capellas needs to be the Rembrandt of rebuilders to give still-troubled MCI a chance.
Since taking over in late 2002, Capellas has labored to pull the country's second-largest long-distance provider out of Bernie Ebbers' shadow - by setting a new tone of ethical leadership and austerity; bonding with the SEC-appointed watchdog; crafting a bankruptcy-reorg plan okayed by the courts last October; and, above all, trying to convince the public and heavyweight enterprise customers that the bad old days are gone forever. He even hired a veteran ethics czar, Nancy Higgins from Lockheed Martin, and ordered all 55,000 MCI employees to take an online course in ethical behavior.
Alas, there's more to do as MCI's stock resumes trading early this year. Vital capital expenditures all but stagnated during the WorldCom implosion, and MCI is still barred from winning new government business. Hungry rivals like AT&T and Sprint will do all they can to keep the punch-drunk giant from getting off its knees. If Capellas keeps MCI on the comeback trail in 2004, his place in the business hall of fame will be assured. He might even secure a guest spot on Survivor.
Who Genentech COO and executive vice president for commercial operations
Why Watch? As this company rolls out new drugs for cancer and psoriasis, its top marketer's star keeps rising.
Genentech has a proud past. It was the first biotech company, the first to go public, and the first to bring a drug to market. As for the present, Genentech is coming off a great 2003, when its profits soared and stock price doubled, both fueled by booming sales of Rituxan, its market-leading lymphoma drug.