Aiming for the max score
As we assembled this second annual edition of the Virginia 500, I found myself visualizing a dartboard — with 500 darts.
In choosing the top 500 Virginia executives and power players in business, higher education and government/politics, several are guaranteed to strike the inner bull’s-eye. I’m certain we can all agree that the leaders of Virginia’s 39 Fortune 500 companies are going to hit true center. Similarly, Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Stephen Moret and the presidents of Virginia’s major public universities aren’t likely to be contentious calls. I’d venture to say there are at least 100 people in the Virginia 500 that fall into this category.
The rest of the list is more subjective and involves extensive research and outreach. In assembling this annual list of the state’s most powerful and influential leaders by sector, we consider a variety of factors, including — but not limited to — annual revenue, newsworthiness, community involvement, diversity, number of employees (in Virginia and worldwide) and how large a presence the organization has in the commonwealth.
Some leaders on this list are well known, with decades of experience. Others may be brand-new to their roles but are on the list due to the prominence of their positions.
It’s important to note that inclusion in the Virginia 500 is not an endorsement by Virginia Business. It is simply recognition of a person’s power, influence and importance within their field.
Some sectors — such as energy — are dominated by one or two major corporations. For each sector, we allow only three executives from a single company and its subsidiaries.
We do consider geographic, racial and gender diversity when making up the list; however, the Virginia 500 is intended to be a true reflection of who holds power and influence in Virginia. In a country where just four of America’s Fortune 500 CEOs — 0.8% — are Black, none of whom are in Virginia, this list still skews white and male. (Just 8.1% of Fortune 500 executives are women — three lead Virginia companies. One female CEO of a Fortune Global 500 company also is based in Virginia.)
Despite our editorial team’s best efforts, we realize our list of the commonwealth’s top business, education and government leaders might not match up exactly with your list.
In the nation’s top state for business, we have an abundance of highly accomplished executives, and it’s impossible to include every leader of consequence, even within a list of 500. So, we look forward to hearing your thoughts about who should have made the cut — and who should have been cut.
Our hope is that you will agree that most of our darts hit at least the outer bull’s-eye.