Power has been a big deal in the world for the longest time. It is because of power that the political class was born, dictators were born and above all, leadership became a deep human desire. In today’s world, the thirst for power has not changed a bit.
What is interesting though, is that the powerful men and women of today are no longer heads of states alone. Men and women in the private sector are slowly encroaching in this heavily guarded space, some of them being rumored to be calling diplomatic shots between countries.
It is no lie that the world is quickly changing, and the dynamics we had fifty years ago no longer apply today. One thing to note though, is that most of these powerful people are not disadvantaged when it comes to deep pockets. But hey, Jamal and Hakeem in the popular series “Empire”, sang that it’s never about the money, but the power.
And when it comes to power, you are not always guaranteed to stay at the top of the hierarchy, let alone the hierarchy tree itself, for long enough. Things change quite fast, the more reason why the most powerful people of 2016, are not the ones we have in 2017.
So who are the new powerful kids on the block? Here’s a list of the 15 most powerful people in the world 2017.
15. Sergey Brin
This is the man who partnered with Larry Page to create what is the largest internet firm in the globe, Google. Currently the president of Alphabet, which is Google’s parent firm, Sergey was the mastermind behind Google’s secretive division, Google X, which was responsible for Google glasses.
Despite Google glasses being a huge failure (one of the biggest for Google), Sergey holds a global position of one of the most powerful men because of a couple of reasons. Save for his current net worth, which according to Forbes is 42.9 Billion dollars, this man runs the core of this age’s internet. Google’s global online impact is estimated to be one of the largest in the world, meaning a second of downtime can scream catastrophe for the whole online world.
14. Jack Ma
This Chinese billionaire is revered as one of the founding fathers of e-commerce. He holds the position of founder and Executive chairman of Alibaba, an e-commerce firm he co-founded back in the 90s. This former English teacher rose from his background to an incredible Forbes current net worth of 38 Billion US dollars.
What makes this man powerful is his huge impact in the e-commerce world. In 2014, Alibaba broke the New York Stock Exchange record, after their shares sold for the highest price ever recorded in the market. But that’s not all. For the 12 months ending in March 2017, Alibaba’s revenue rose by 56%, to end the year at $23 billion, a good gesture of the strong position the company he founded holds in the global e-commerce industry.
13. Christine Lagarde
When Greece was calling for mercy and more time for her to settle her debts, Christine Lagarde was among the people the debt-struck country was seeking reprieve from. Christine is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for a second term in a row, after being reelected in February 2016. The organization she runs is responsible for providing economic advice and backstop for 188 countries, some of them being China and Russia which she finally managed to enroll into the organization’s fiscal discipline.
As you wonder how she managed to convince Vladimir Putin to make that move, it is worth noting that Christine is on record as being one of IMF’s Managing Director with very stern conditions for the structural loans offered by IMF. Clearly, she seems to be a very no-nonsense lady. Currently, the world is looking up to her to handle the huge economic impact that may arise out of Brexit.
12. Elon Musk
Who would have ever thought that going to Silicon Valley would make you both rich and powerful? Elon Musk has been a rapidly growing household name in the Auto Industry for close to the past decade. The self-proclaimed, self-made master of electric cars and space tourism is the mastermind behind Tesla Motors and Space X.
Having been born in South Africa before heading to America as a transfer student, Elon in simple terms came, saw and conquered. His first billion-dollar deal came in 2002 after he sold his e-money company PayPal to Ebay for $1.4 Billion. His Space X company is currently valued at $20 Billion, with plans already in place to send the first ever space tourists in a reusable rocket to space.
The visionary Elon Musk is currently a very powerful force in the Auto industry, and likewise a man to seriously watch in the Oil Industry, as his electric cars are tearing apart the fossil-fuel ruled car world. His contributions to electric cars is currently one of the main reasons why huge car companies such as Mercedes and Volvo are rushing to build electric cars of their own, after Elon’s progressive success in making consumer friendly electric cars.
11. Narendra Modi
Now, touching on the political arena, this Indian prime minister has gone up the ranks to be one of the most powerful men in the world, due to his visionary leadership. The Indian Prime Minister, since assuming office, has been behind radical changes in his country of 1.3 billion people.
One of his landmark decisions was in November 2016, when he decided to do away with the country’s two largest notes in a bid to combat money laundering and corruption that was a national menace. His associations with big shots such as former US President Barack Obama and Xi Jinping of China has also catapulted him up the power ranks. Additionally, Modi is a very key figure in the global fight against global warming, due to the huge impact the global catastrophe would have on his largely rural and vulnerable citizens.
10. Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Where there is oil, there must be power and that’s why we are setting dock in the Middle East. Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is the King of Saudi Arabia, having inherited the throne from his half-brother who died back in January 2015. Immediately after assuming power, Abdulaziz wasn’t slow to use it as four months later, he changed the Kingship hereditary structure of Saudi Arabia from the sons of the founding father, to the younger generations of the founding father’s lineage.
His rule has not been short of show of power. In January 2016, he executed 47 people, one of them being a prominent rebel. His government has also funded bombings in Yemen, a country that has been plagued with serious conflict for about two years now.
9. Theresa May
When the UK found itself in tough times, they resorted to a woman to handle their unforgivingly tough affairs. Being the prime minister of UK, at a point where it wants to alienate itself from the biggest trading block it has ever been in, it shows why Theresa May could not have missed in this list.
After taking the mantle from James Cameron, who resigned from the Prime Minister position, Theresa May has been handling a mammoth task of withdrawing from the European Union, without exposing her country’s economy to unforgiving elements. The whole Brexit process is the reason why she currently calls big shots globally, as the world watches what she will do in the process of Brexit and what will be left of Britain afterwards.
8. Mark Zuckerberg
If people have to use your website to connect with their friends and market their merchandise, plus your bank account can fill a warehouse and overflow it with hundred dollar bills, you got to be a powerful man. Mark Zuckerberg’s story is the perfect testimony of luck, success and the life of a man born with a silver spoon in the mouth.
From a dormitory in Harvard, with a few thousands of dollars for a net worth, Zuckerberg is currently boasting of a net worth of $69.2 Billion. That is a huge gain from his $50 Billion figure, close to a year ago. For a man who controls the online social circles, it’s a no brainer deciphering why he has to feature on this list.
Apart from being the co-founder, CEO and Chairman of Facebook, Zuckerberg bought off social giants WhatsApp and Instagram, making him the Titan of the online social space. One unique moment when the 33-year old’s worldwide influence was seen was when WhatsApp servers went down for a couple of hours on the 4th of May, 2017. He had a load of Facebook users complain in his account of how he shut the whole world down.
7. Xi Jinping
China currently boasts of being one of the fastest growing economies in the globe, and it is all thanks to this guy. But that’s not all. China’s political footprint globally has also grown bigger, yet again thanks to this guy, Xi Jinping.
So what’s made this guy so powerful all of a sudden?
Apart from being the president of China, a position he assumed back in 2012, Xi Jinping was crowned the secretary general of the Communist party, a move that brought him to the light of the powerful and the mighty. Apart from putting forth a strong fight against corruption in his own country, Xi Jinping supposedly has strong influence in the political affairs of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
His biggest show of power was when he flew a nuclear bomber over South China Sea Islands after Donald Trump made a damning direct phone call to the president of Taiwan, a move not taken kindly by Xi Jinping.
6. Bill Gates
It’s hard not to think that the richest man in the world is not one of the most powerful. And surely he did not miss. Let’s start with the coolest figures. As per the real time valuation system at Forbes, Bill Gates’ current net worth is about $84.8 Billion. But here is the best part. The original value was about $89.4 Billion, and still after withdrawing $4.6 Billion to charity thus his current net worth, no one in the world has managed to topple him from the number one position.
Now that’s a lot of money. You might be thinking, probably that’s where his power is. Well, yes, that money sure makes him powerful, but his charitable works and global initiatives also make him a force to reckon with.
Bill is the co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the largest private charity foundation in the world. Part of his works, apart from charity, is partnering with Rotary foundation to combat and eventually eradicate Polio. And by the way, he was one of the chief guests in this year’s World Economic Forum. You can’t talk big bucks without this guy.
5. Angela Merkel
When women rule, they rule mighty! And that is the case of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. Her stand in the global arena is one of the most powerful in the world. Currently, she is faced with multiple problems involving guiding Europe through Brexit, and balancing the growing influence by Russia in Europe. As a political leader, she has never shied away from showing her might.
She overturned a post-Nazi-era taboo of zero direct military interference after offering military support to Kurdish fighters in the war against ISIS. Some of her landmark achievements have been guiding Germany through a deep recession and in 2016 receiving not only 12.1 billion Euros in budget surplus but also a AAA rating from credit rating agencies.
4. Donald Trump
If you are the CEO of a superpower, then you have to be one of the most powerful men in the world. Donald Trump is a household name and to some extent, one of the most active presidents in social media.
Now, you don’t get powerful out of writing a couple of tweets, do you? So what is it about Donald Trump?
Actually, it has less to do with his presidency. Before getting the prefix President in his names, Donald Trump was a world renowned business mogul, with properties and assets spread across the globe. His vast wealth, especially in the real estate industry, has gained him an enviable position as one of the biggest real estate moguls. Though how he would balance his many businesses and the presidency was a matter of huge debate, the shrewd businessman’s position coupled with the seat he holds at the moment, makes him one of the most powerful men in the world.
3. Benjamin Netanyahu
As we go up this list, more and more political leaders are showing up, mainly because we are approaching their sphere. Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israel’s prime minister for four terms in a row, and he’s viewed as one of the most powerful men in the world, largely because of his political footprint.
One of Netanyahu’s most notable characters is his strong stance when it comes to matters security. He has in many instances ignored international community calls to lower his stance on Israel’s Palestinian neighbors, in many occasions instigating conflict and wars within the region. Interestingly though, no hard actions have been taken against him or his country of 8 million people.
Why? Probably because he got the power. His greatest pride though is that Israel still remains as the country with the highest startups per capita in the world, in many occasions being referred to as the hub of innovation globally.
2. Pope Francis
Pope Francis is listed among the most powerful people in the world, because of a couple of reasons.
One, he heads what is the largest known organization in the history of mankind. The catholic church has the largest number of members in the entire globe (approximately 1.3 billion members), and all these flock, as they call them, are headed by this one man. Come to think of it, if he desires to rule the world, this is one man who wouldn’t have a hard time creating his super army. But that is not what the Pope does.
Apart from overseeing spiritual matters of the catholic church, Pope Francis is one of the biggest advisors of political leaders across the globe. In several occasions, he had meetings with the former US president Barack Obama and is usually consulted by a consortium of world leaders for if not advice on social matters, then religious matters.
1. Vladimir Putin
The man causing headaches world over tops our list. Vladimir Putin is not new to global power dominance. Matter of fact, Forbes has listed him as the most powerful man in the world for four years in a row. Now that is a neat record, isn’t it?
Apart from attempting to hack into US diplomats and officials accounts (allegedly), Putin is a busy man poking Russia’s nose in affairs of every corner of the globe. The Kremlin leader is accused of bypassing global norms and exerting Russian influence in every place the leader sees feasible. While he vehemently denies some of these charges, Putin is still maintaining a very dominant public figure. It will probably take a while before he gets dethroned.
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