7. Scott D. Oki
Senior Vice President of Sales (Retired)
Scott Oki was only 43 when he left Microsoft in 1992. Yet he had already become the most successful of Bill Gates's hires by growing Microsoft into the world's leading software company during his decade there. Now he is devoting his youthful retirement to heading up the charitable Oki Foundation and building a portfolio of golf courses. The $100 million in Microsoft stock options with which he had retired had expanded into a net worth of $750 million in 1999, making him America's 380th wealthiest private citizens, according to Forbes.
Oki was hired by Bill Gates himself in 1982 to head up Microsoft's international operations. Within two years it was more profitable than the U.S. operations. By 1986 Gates needed Oki's relentless dynamism back home to save the company from certain disaster. Oki quickly fired and laid off nearly half the existing sales and marketing force. Within five years Microsoft's revenues rose from $100 million to $1 billion while gross profit margins grew from 63% to over 80%, raising the U.S. division's pre-tax profits to 30%. By the time he retired Oki was overseeing 3,000 employees.
Oki's other contribution to Microsoft's spectacular success was convincing Gates and the board of directors to center product development and marketing efforts around Windows instead of OS/2.
Scott D Oki was born October 5, 1948, three years after his father was released from Minedoka internment camp. Like his famous boss, Oki was born in Seattle, the eldest of three children. The elder Oki, a nisei, was a strict father, instilling in Scott the discipline he would ultimately need to work 100-hour weeks during Microsoft's years of struggle. That discipline hadn't yet taken root when Oki began at the University of Washington. After squandering 18 months, Oki escaped into the Air Force and spent four years playing in its Colorado Springs percussion section. His off-duty hours were devoted to courses at the University of Colorado. By his discharge in 1974 Oki had racked up almost enough credits for a BA in accounting and information systems. He graduated magna cum laude and earned an MBA a year later.
He spent two unhappy years as a data-base programmer for a local direct-mail company before moving to Palo Alto to join a Hewlett-Packard startup division selling small business systems. In 1980 Oki and three fast-track friends secured venture capital to develop and sell turnkey office management systems for small medical practices. The venture failed but the experience Oki took away -- what he calls "scar-tissue"--would serve him well at Microsoft.
Today Oki divides weekdays among his Oki Foundation, investing in golf courses and afternoon rounds of golf. His handicap has steadily improved to 12, thanks in large measure to his prowess with the putter. Wife Laurie and their two sons enjoy priority during weekends and ski vacations.
8. Sanjay Kumar
Chairman and CEO
Computer Associates International Inc
Sanjay Kumar was groomed to be Charles Wang's handpicked successor practically since joining Computer Associates in 1987. Kumar quickly demonstrated an uncanny ability to balance the technical, managerial and financial demands of the software business and rose swiftly up the ranks. The key step came in 1994 when he was named president and chief operating officer, freeing Wang to focus on developing a new strategy for a company that had begun to slip behind onetime peers like Microsoft. In August 2002 Kumar was handed CEO duties as Wang began devoting more time to philanthropic activities and reviving the New York Islander's hocky team which he had bought jointly with Kumar.
Kumar was appointed to the chairmanship when Wang stepped down in November of 2002 amid questions over his exercise of hundreds of millions worth of stock options a few months before the company's stock tumbled. Kumar acted quickly to reestablish trust by bringing in more independent directors and establishing a director of corporate governance. He has stabilized CA's core business while promoting its new Unicenter network management products, the flagship of its so-called computing-resource-on-demand strategy.
Sanjay Kumar was born in Sri Lanka in 1962 and emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 14. He devotes much of his free time and money to a personal family foundation that funds projects for education, arts, the environment and needy children.
“Oki's other contribution to Microsoft's spectacular success was convincing Gates and the board of directors to center product development and marketing efforts around Windows instead of OS/2.”