Top 10 most influential people in EMEA

Amber Donovan-Stevens
- Leadership - Apr 03, 2020

In no particular order, Business Chief takes a closer look at 10 of the most influential business leaders across EMEA.

10. Mohammed Dewji

Mohammed Dewji, is the current CEO and President of MeTL Group, which was founded by his father in 1970, and ranks in Business Chief’s top 10 for his philanthropic ventures. 

In 2014, Dewji established the Mo Dewji Foundation, which is dedicated to enriching lives and alleviating poverty and hardship. “I have been blessed and I am very proud of the success of my company […] I believe in putting money back into my country first and foremost,” commented Dewji. Two years later, Dewji joined the Giving Pledge, which was established by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Malinda Gates. 

MeTL Group

HQ: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Founded: 1970

CEO: Mohammed Dewji

9. Sjoerd Leenart

Sjoerd Leenart is the Global Head of Corporate Banking, and a key player in the Investment banking company, JPMorgan Chase. He is responsible for Corporate and Financial Institution clients across North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In addition to this, He is also the Regional Head for Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA). 

Under his leadership, US bank’s Middle East business has grown 25% in the past five years, a remarkable feat for what has been an economically difficult time for the company. Leenart is based out of Dubai, UAE. 

J.P. Morgan Chase

HQ: New York, NY, US

Founded: 2000

CEO: Jamie Dimon

8. Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson is one of the most iconic entrepreneurs to come out of the UK. The founder of Virgin Group, he has evolved to control over 400 businesses in a variety of fields. In 1999 he was a founding sponsor of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC). Branson is also known for launching Virgin Startup, which would assist in providing loans to entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 30 in the UK. In 11 months, over £600,000 was loaned 100 businesses. He has taken part in a wealth of other humanitarian initiatives that benefit equal and gay rights, as well as climate change. At the turn of the century Branson was knighted for his “service to entrepreneurship” for his work across media and transport, as well as his humanitarian work. 

Virgin Group

HQ: London, UK

Founded: 1970

CEO: Josh Bayliss

7. Ben van Beurden

Bernardus Cornelis Adriana Margriet “Ben” van Beurden is CEO of oil supermajor Royal Dutch Shell, the largest public company in Europe. With a career spanning over 35 years, van Beurden became CEO in 2014, succeeding Peter Voser, making him the second Dutch CEO of the company since its creation in 2004. The company continues to operate through its three major segments: Upstream, Downstream, and Corporate.

Shell has won countless awards under van Beurden’s leadership, ranking across a number of Forbes awards for Best Employer 2019 in the following categories: New Grads, Diversity, Women, and in the America and Canada regions.

Royal Dutch Shell

HQ: The Hague, Netherlands

Founded: 1907

CEO: Ben van Beurden

6.  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Over the years, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has held several positions in finance and banking, including Minister of Finance and Economy for Nigeria where she led the implementation of a comprehensive economic reform to stabilise the macroeconomy and triple its growth rate. 

In addition to her role as Minister, Okonjo-Iweala held the position of Managing Director at the World Bank where she supervised the bank’s operations in Africa, Europe and Asia. During her time at the bank, she spearheaded several initiatives to assist food and financial crises, as well as replenishing over US$40bn for its International Development Association (IDA).

Alongside her roles in finance, Okonjo-Iweala is a member of and chairs multiple boards and advisories with the ambition to improve lives around the world, including: ONE Campaign, the World Resources Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, the African Institutes of Science and Technology and the Center for Global Development (CGD).

the World Bank

HQ: Washington DC, US

Founded: 1944

CEO: Philippe Le Houérou (International Finance Corporation) 


5.Benjamin Ampen

Benjamin Ampen is the Managing Director of Middle East and North Africa of global social media organisation, Twitter. Since joining the organisation in 2012, Ampen has held several leadership roles at Twitter, including Head of New Markets, Continental Europe and Head of Revenue, Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan.

Prior to joining Twitter, Ampen has worked for the likes of Google, Detecon international GmbH and France Telecom. In 2008, Amphen graduated from the ESCP Business School with a Master’s in Management, an MSc in Management and an MSc in Management / Kaufmann Diplom. 


HQ: San Francisco 

Founded: 2006

CEO: Jack Dorsey 

4. Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and current Executive Chairman of Econet Group, a telecommunications, energy and technology company.

In 1996, Strive Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi Masiyiwa, established the Higherlife Foundation to invest in Africa’s human capital and build thriving individuals, communities, and sustainable livelihoods.

In 2014, the couple joined the Giving Pledge. “In making this pledge, to give no less than 50% [...] we are fulfilling what the Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:35, concerning giving: ‘I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said - It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”

Econet Group

HQ: Johannesburg, South Africa

Founded: 1993

CEO: Hardy Pemhiwa

3. Sir James Dyson

Sir James Dyson is another iconic UK entrepreneur, famous for founding Dyson and designing its products. Dyson is the largest investor in robotics and AI research, employing over 3,500 engineers and scientists in the area. 

Dyson has contributed to the vast creation of jobs in the UK, most notably by extending the campus at the Dyson UK headquarters in Malmesbury in 2014, which would create 3,000 new jobs, and again in 2016 as he announced a second new multimillion-pound research and development centre.

He also set up the James Dyson Foundation in 2002 that would support the education of engineering in the UK, US and Japan. 


HQ: Malmesbury, UK

Founded: 1991

CEO: James Dyson

2. Deitmar Hopp

Dietmar Hopp is a billionaire and entrepreneur. He is the cofounder and former chairman and CEO of SAP, and served as CEO from 1988 to 1998.

Hopp established the Dietmar Hopp Stiftung, a foundation that supports local education, sports, social programmes, and health causes. It has distributed over US$700mn since its inception. 

He, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are lead investors in CureVac, a private German company that specialises in the creation of vaccines for influenza and malaria.


HQ:  Walldorf, Germany

Founded: 1972

CEO: Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein

  1. Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault is the richest man in Europe and the third richest in the world behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Arnault owns a vast number of luxury goods brands, including Louis Vuitton, Sephora and LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton. One of his major acquisitions is that of Christian Dior, where Arnault used $15mn from his father's construction business to buy the designer brand in 1985. Arnault is also an art collector and was awarded the Museum of Modern Art's David Rockefeller Award in 2014. He has also been awarded honorary titles of Grand Officier de la Légion d’Honneur and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.


HQ: Paris, France

Founded: 1987

CEO: Bernard Arnault

For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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