Brand Guardianship Index 2022
The annual report on the world’s top 250 CEOs

Brand Finance Brand Guardianship Index 2022

The Brand Finance Brand Guardianship Index has been expanded and now ranks the world’s top 250 CEOs. This year’s top brand guardian is Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. Mr Nadella, who also became Chairman this year, has been credited with overhauling Microsoft’s fortunes by changing its culture towards one of teamwork, innovation, and inclusivity, and instilling a growth mindset throughout the business. This transformation has carried through to the brand’s organisational purpose, which now focuses on empowerment.

The top 10 of the ranking is dominated by brand guardians from the tech and media sectors. Tech boasts the majority with six featuring, which signals the important role that brands from the sector have played in supporting business evolution throughout the pandemic. Tim Cook sits in a well-earned 2nd place, having overseen Apple’s record-breaking year, which saw it become the first company to achieve a US$3 trillion market valuation. Mr Cook is joined by the brand guardians of a number of household brand names, with Tencent’s Huateng Ma (4th), Google’s Sundar Pichai (5th), and Netflix’s Reed Hastings (7th) all featuring at the top of the ranking.

AMD CEO Lisa Su is a new entrant in 10th place, making her the highest-ranked female in the Brand Guardianship Index 2022. Dr. Su newly qualifies for the ranking as AMD has propelled into the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 after an impressive 122% brand value growth over the past year. AMD has undergone an impressive evolution in the capable hands of Dr. Su, who steered the company through a global chip shortage during the pandemic and came out the other side boasting record revenues.

Dr. Su’s leadership of a tech company is unfortunately a rarity, with most being run by male CEOs. This is reflected in the ranking, as the rise in the number of tech brands has come hand in hand with a decrease in the number of female CEOs in the top 100 – from eight in 2021 to five this year. With diversity and inclusion becoming ever-increasingly important to society as a whole, we hope to see the promotion of female leadership in the C-suite in the future.

At a country level, the Brand Guardianship Index 2022 mirrors the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 ranking, with the US and China leading the way. There are 101 CEOs from the US, which represents 40% of the index, and 47 from China, which represents 19%.

The brand guardians from these two countries head up a number of key sectors: Jianjun Wei of Great Wall in Automobiles (3rd), Patricia Griffith of Progressive in Insurance (11th), Xiongjun Ding of Moutai in Spirits (12th), Baoan Xin of State Grid in Utilities (13th), Punit Renjen of Deloitte in Commercial Services (14th), Brian Moynihan of Bank of America in Banking (16th), Ramon Laguarta of Pepsi in Soft Drinks (17th), Andy Jassy of Amazon in Retail (23rd), and Gang Pan of Yili in Food (36th), Wei Wang of SF Express in Logistics (58th), and Guoqiang Yang of Country Garden in Real Estate (88th).

The highest-ranked CEO outside of the US and China duopoly is the ADNOC brand guardian H.E. Dr Sultan Al Jaber. 15th in the ranking, he is also the top-scoring leader in the oil and gas sector. Aside from his role at ADNOC, Dr Sultan holds senior positions within the UAE government, and is a key figure in promoting the diversification and growth of the UAE economy.

Overall, the UAE punches well above its weight in the Brand Guardianship Index 2022. The CEOs of the three UAE brands from the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 ranking all feature and record higher scores than last year, with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Emirates (34th) and e&'s Hatem Dowidar (79th) joining Dr Sultan in the top 100.

Ultimately, the role of a brand guardian is to build brand and business value. Our ranking recognises those who are building business value in a sustainable manner, by balancing the needs of all stakeholders – employees, investors, and the wider society. More and more, the CEOs ranked in the Brand Guardianship Index must work in partnership to build a sustainable future, redefining the role of a CEO from ultra-competitive entrepreneur to collaborative diplomat.

David Haigh, CEO & Chairman, Brand Finance