AHN BYUNG-MO, CEO, Kia Motors America
Back in 2008, Kia dealers were seething over sliding sales and bloated inventories, and when Ahn was named head of both Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, it was the seventh CEO change in less than a decade. But things have improved dramatically while Ahn, 61, has run the company's sales and marketing and manufacturing arms in this country-- the first executive to hold both responsibilities at Kia. On the marketing side, he has allowed sales boss Tom Loveless and marketing chief Michael Sprague to strut their stuff. Market share climbed from 2.1 percent in 2008 to 3.8 percent through the first 10 months of this year. Sales are up 35 percent so far in 2011, and the brand has created some funky, attention-getting ads, such as those hip-hop hamsters spots.