Ari Bousbib, 48

Ari Bousbib, 48

United Technologies
President, Commercial Companies

One year into his expanded job overseeing United Technologies' (UTX) Otis, Carrier, and Fire & Security units, the intense Bousbib is using some of the same techniques that helped him turn elevator maker Otis into what Credit Suisse (CSR) analyst Nicole Parent calls “one of the best-run businesses I have ever seen.” But Bousbib is more than just an operations whiz. The Parisian, an engineer by training, speaks four languages and was the brains behind some 100 acquisitions and divestitures earlier in his career at UTC, including the 1999 sale of its automotive unit to Lear (LEA) and the $4.3 billion acquisition of aerospace manufacturer Sundstrand. Analysts laud his willingness to experiment with innovative ideas while acting decisively when projects fail.

While it’s hard to top the diverse and global nature of his current gig, recruiters say Bousbib has sent signals he’d be interested if the right CEO job came along. In the meantime, he has joined Home Depot's (HD) board, a résumé builder for any future public company CEO. Home Depot Chief Executive Frank Blake sees him as a strategic and operational sounding board. Says Blake: “This is one very, very smart guy.”

--by Jena McGregor