As we began evaluating contenders for 2019 CEO of the Year, Steve Demetriou’s qualifications quickly stood out. Although he doesn’t have the name recognition of past winners like Jerry Jones (2017) or Randall Stephenson (2016), he has quietly engineered a stunning, multibillion-dollar transformation of the global technical and professional services giant Jacobs, where he serves as CEO and chair (preferring the genderless title, versus chairman).
Jacobs’ stock price has climbed about 120 percent since the day he took the reins in August 2015. A series of mergers and acquisitions opened up new avenues of business for the company, driving revenue from $11 billion in 2016 to nearly $15 billion last year. Demetriou streamlined operations by selling off an energy and chemicals unit for $3.3 billion, and moved Jacobs’ corporate headquarters from Pasadena, California, to downtown Dallas.
But, writes Jason Heid, who put together our cover story, if you talk with others in the company about where Demetriou has had the most significant impact, they don’t point to the numbers: “They all mention the same thing. All the good he has done, they’ll tell you, began with his transformation of the company’s culture.”