Winfried Vahland, 58
BASED: Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: After several years working for Volkswagen in Brazil, Vahland joined Skoda in 2002 as finance chief. Three years later he was picked to lead Volkswagen's operations in China, where he introduced the Olympia restructuring program that put the carmaker back on course in its most important growth market. He returned to Skoda as CEO in September 2010.
REASON FOR WINNING: Vahland has transformed Skoda into a volume and profit driver for the Volkswagen Group, upstaging even the VW brand with its success. Last year Skoda topped 1 million vehicle sales for the first time, while revenue increased 14 percent and operating profit rose by 57 percent to 817 million euros. The brand is set to impress further with the widely acclaimed third-generation Superb sedan that launched in June and the forthcoming Superb wagon.