Sanjay Jha spent 2010 at the helm of one of the most high-profile turnaround efforts in electronics as chief executive of Motorola Mobility. Plenty of stormy seas are still ahead, but the engineer-turned-executive is making progress on a carefully plotted course.
Estimates are that Motorola will have shipped about 14 million of its new Droid smartphones this year, putting it back in the game of high-end handsets. That's significant for a company that had sprung a big leak in its financials and market share after essentially missing the emergence of the super-hot smartphone market.
In October, the company's handset business broke even for the first time in three years, a quarter ahead of plan, said Mark McKechnie, a Wall Street analyst who follows Motorola for Gleacher & Co. "I am definitely positive on what he [Jha] has done so far. Sanjay really breathed some life into the company, and runs a tight ship," often having a hand in which products make it to market, McKechnie said of the former chip set designer from Qualcomm.
Icebergs ahead include a long-rumored Apple iPhone for Verizon, which has been Moto's biggest partner and a leading Android advocate. Jha is tacking toward huge markets in sub-$200 smartphones and China to weather that squall.
With a doctorate in electrical engineering, this CEO has no shortage of brainpower to read the changing stars. And he is not alone navigating the high seas of mobile systems. Nokia's new chief executive, Stephen Elop, has even a bigger boat to turn around.
You could make the argument that while Steve Jobs brought the iPad to fruition and changed the portable computer landscape, it is the enabling technologies from the companies on the list that contribute to Steve Jobs' and many other system companies' success.