In Other Words

The World’s Iacoccas

The celebrity business bio is no longer a U.S. phenomenon. 


CEO: Abilio dos Santos Diniz, Brazil
Book: Caminhos e Escolhas: O equilíbrio para uma vida mais feliz (Paths and Choices: The Balance for a Happier Life), by Diniz
CV: President of Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao, a Brazilian retail chain
Personal: The 73-year-old magnate’s self-help books describe his personal regimen, a demanding combination of spiritual and physical exercises including praying while swimming.


CEO: Jack Ma, China
Book: Alibaba: The Inside Story Behind Jack Ma and the Creation of the World’s Biggest Online Marketplace, by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery
CV: CEO of the Alibaba Group
Personal: Ma’s biography presents his story as an Internet fairy tale: He’d never used a keyboard before founding Alibaba, a website that connects businesses with suppliers and became enormously successful after a rocky start.


CEO: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia
Book: Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince, by Riz Khan
CV: Principal owner of the Kingdom Holding Company
Personal: The 19th-richest person in the world, bin Talal reportedly hired professional soccer players to play with his son and bought a Rolls-Royce for his 14-year-old daughter. Jimmy Carter’s foreword to his biography thanks bin Talal for “his partnership in our mission of … building hope around the world.”


CEO: Gustavo Cisneros, Venezuela
Book: Gustavo Cisneros: Pioneer, by Pablo Bachelet
CV: Owner of Venevisión, Venezuela’s main TV network
Personal: Thanks to his father’s prosperous trucking company, Cisneros’s life story has been mostly riches, few rags. His role in the 2002 attempted coup against President Hugo Chávez made him persona non grata in Venezuela until a secret deal brokered by Carter brought him back into the fold.


CEO: Roman Abramovich, Russia
Book: Abramovich: The Billionaire from Nowhere, by Dominic Midgley and Chris Hutchins
CV: Owner of Britain’s Chelsea soccer club, main owner of Millhouse LLC investment company
Personal: In his student days, Siberian orphan Abramovich sold plastic ducks to get by; now the world’s 50th-richest person, he lives in an extravagant London mansion and drops millions of dollars on Caribbean parties.

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