John Stumpf, 55

Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg News

John Stumpf, 55

CEO, Wells Fargo, San Francisco

Chairman Dick Kovacevich may get the spotlight, but Stumpf has struck the smart deals. Stumpf is more of a “consensus builder” than Kovacevich.But he’s clearly just as aggressive. His $15 billion acquisition of Wachovia has turned Wells into a bicoastal banking powerhouse. He knows the challenges have just begun: “It’ll take all of our skill on both sides to merge this.”

Now he’s gearing up for a tough year as the downturn deepens and Wells works through Wachovia’s troubled mortgage portfolio. “We didn’t get into it overnight,” he says. “We won’t get out overnight.”