George David, 61, almost takes pride in avoiding the headlines. Over the past decade, the chairman and CEO of United Technologies Corp. (UTX ) has quietly outperformed rival General Electric Co. (GE ) in total shareholder return and averaged double-digit earnings growth. He also guarantees every UTC worker a college education or more through the company's $60 million-a-year Employee Scholar program -- even extending some education benefits to laid-off workers. And, says David, "in a choppy environment for corporate scandals, there has been no news from UTC."
Maybe not on that front, but the $28 billion Hartford conglomerate has certainly been busy. In August, David acquired electronic security company Chubb PLC for $1 billion -- a nice fit for the largest supplier of capital equipment to buildings worldwide. And, he says, "it's the type of situation that longs for the authority of UTC." It also adds security and fire protection to a group that already includes air conditioners, helicopters, and elevators.
While David will trudge into the spotlight now and then, he argues that publicity for CEOs is overrated. "You put your head down, do good work, and good things will happen," he says. Earnings rose only 4% in the third quarter, to $639 million, but David considers that an accomplishment, given the tough environment for commercial aviation. Challenging times haven't diminished his enthusiasm for work. "I love this job," he says. Shareholders love his performance on the job, too.
-- Posted strong results in an aviation downturn.
-- Increased retention and raised skill level of workers through Employee Scholar program, which offers a college education to every employee.