Tuesday, July 16, 2024


'The measure of a man (or woman) is what he does with power.’
—Plato, updated.

Great leadership never goes out of style. The need for it has never been greater.

Whoever made those statements first, thank you. I’ll share them as a contribution and rationale for Business North Carolina’s Power List, our annual report on the state’s most influential leaders.

Demand for steady, competent leadership is unquestionable. Just look at the war in Ukraine, inflation reaching 40-year highs, and negative effects lingering from a horrible pandemic. It’s a challenging time.

Fortunately, our state is full of terrific leaders, as evidenced by this publication. Our magazine created the list after seeking nominations, talking with dozens of sources, undertaking significant research and spending years covering North Carolina’s business community from our unique statewide perspective.

We realize this is a small sampling that reflects our best efforts to cite those making the most impact. There are thousands of great leaders in the state. We love to hear feedback from readers reminding us of key omissions.

The people on the list shared some thoughts on their early morning routines, keys to success, favorite hobbies and great hangouts and restaurants. The responses provide considerable insight and some humor.

My personal favorites:

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and it’s OK to walk away.

Jim Goodnight

CEO | SAS Institute

The happiest you will ever be in your life is when you bring joy to others’ lives.

Greg Keith

president, CEO | The Keith Group

Everyone stumbles. What people remember is how you move forward, not that you fell.

Caroline Helwig Dudley

managing director | Accenture

Asked for favored dinner guests, seven people cited Barack Obama. Only one cited Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

Elected officials and government executives aren’t included, as we focused on private- and quasi-private-sector officials. An exception is UNC System chancellors, whose large organizations wield major economic clout.

There’s a bias toward leaders in the big metropolitan areas, where most economic activity occurs. Great rural leaders often get overlooked.

Special thanks to my colleagues for the intense effort to produce this publication, particularly designers Peggy Knaack and Ralph Voltz. Peggy came up with the retro images of vintage toys and old equipment models to combine a glimpse of history while honoring some exceptional people. They should spark some memories for many readers — and maybe questions from younger ones.

We are most appreciative of our sponsors and the many people who contributed to this snapshot of North Carolina’s business leadership in 2022.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

Below are links to the industry categories featuring Power List members: