A small town in the Swiss Alps is overrun for a week every winter by the biggest global names in business, finance and politics. Davos, site of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, also attracts its fair share of philanthropists, academics, artists, activists and visionaries.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is an excellent example of those who attend; he's a businessman, investor, billionaire, innovator and philanthropist (along with his wife and partner, Melinda.)
This year, the Davos meeting will focus on a "world that is becoming increasingly complex and interconnected but also experiencing an erosion of common values and principles," according to the WEF program, which seems wholly familiar in the post-financial crisis global economy.
Click ahead to see some of the players who'll appear in Davos during the confab Jan. 26-30.
By Albert Bozzo
Posted 21 Jan 2011
Paul Bulcke - CEO, Nestle (Switz.)
Chanda Kochar - CEO, ICICI (India)
Davos always assembles an interesting and diverse group of co-chairs. The six this year provide ample geographic breath. Bulcke and Kochar essentially represent two key regions of the world. Other co-chairs are from China, Japan, the U.S. and Sweden. Nestle and Mitsubishi are top-shelf global brands with a variety of products.
Bulcke, a Belgian, has never worked for anyone other than Nestle, but befitting a global company has worked on several continents, including North America, where he headed the revenue-rich US unit.
Kochar, named CEO in 2009, runs India's largest private bank and is considered one of the world's most powerful women. ICICI, formerly known as Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India, has a presence in 19 countries.
David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK
George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece
For those in politics and government, Davos has been a celebrated stage for decades, serving newcomers and veterans alike.
For Cameron, like others before him, the meeting offers a global debut for the UK's first Conservative Party Prime Minister of this century.
For Papandreou, it's a easy opportunity to show leadership, put a human (and brave) face on the Greek drama and talk to private investors, NGO chiefs and government leaders alike.
Jean-Claude Trichet, ECB President (France)
Robert Zoellick, President, The World Bank (U.S.)
These two will certainly be interested in Greece's finances.
Trichet has been a Davos headliner for years, unlike his American counterparts. The Frenchman's term at the European Central Bank ends in October of this year, so this may be his swan song.
Zoellick, whose term ends in 2012. is among the many Goldman Sachs alumni to embrace public service, having served as trade rep, and deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush
James Dimon, Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase (US)
Brian T. Moynihan, CEO & Pres, Bank of America (US)
It being Switzerland, you'll find quite a few bankers in the crowd. Dimon, a former co-chair in 2009, has been a regular for years. He's also developed a reputation as a candid, charismatic and periodically caustic speaker.
Moynihan, stout and rugged -- in keeping with his college years as a rugby player -- is back at Davos, after his debut last year, which came shortly after he replaced the controversial and courtly Ken Lewis. Unlike Dimon, Moynihan has something to prove and Davos is a good place to win admirers.
Josef Ackerman , Chairman & CEO, Deutschebank (Germany)
Jean-Paul Chifflet, CEO, Credit Agricole (France)
These two banks, among Europe's largest, have felt the fallout from Greece in the sovereign debt crisis.
Ackerman, who's Swiss, spent years at Credit Suisse before moving to the German giant where he spearheaded the merger with Bankers Trust of the US.
Ackerman is credited with making the bank more shareholder friendly and has been outspoken about Greece's debt burden. Chiffert took over in 2010, leaving behind his vineyard near Lyon. The bank has a big business in Greece and is expanding in Italy.
Larry Page, Co-founder, CEO, Google (U.S.)
Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Google (U.S.)
Google being Google, the company requires a slide of its own. What's better than a mountain setting for a company whose stock has reached such heights and stands above the tech titans? Of course, Page and Schmidt may not be spending that mugh time together in Davos, seeing as how the company just announced Page would assume Schmidt's CEO role in April.
José Carreras, Spanish Tenor
Aaron Koblin, Digital Artist (U.S.)
Artists are often acknowledged, and sometimes celebrated, at Davos simply for their work. Others in the past have come with a social or political agenda (Bono, Angelina Jolie).
Spain's José Carreras, one of the so-called "Three Tenors", is an opera star with a mission. A leukemia survivor, Carreras founded the José Carerras International Leukemia Foundation more than 20 years ago.
Koblin, who at 28 already has a piece in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, specializes in data visualization and is Technology Lead of Google’s Creative Lab.
Stephen A . Schwarzman, Chairrman & CEO, The Blackstone Group
George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management
Big-name investors are always on scene at Davos, and Schwarzman and Soros are familiar faces.
Schwarzman, who recently relocated to Paris for awhile, is one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, even though his his hedge fund is trading at about half its IPO value of 3 1/2 years ago.
Soros' investments don't make headlines the way they did a couple of decades ago, but the financier himself often does, especially at Davos. Soros is now known as much for his philanthropy and support for the Democratic Party as he is his investment prowess.
Nouriel Roubini, Professor, NYU Stern (U.S.)
Lawrence Summers, Professor, Harvard University (U.S.)
The academics of today are in many cases players as much as observers, and in some cases move in and out of government.
Former White House advisor and Treasury Secretary Summers is back at the meeting, having just left the Obama administration. Look for some of his customary blunt comments.
Roubini, who earned the name "Dr. Doom And Gloom" because of his prescient yet pessimistic analysis of the financial crisis, will no doubt be in great demand, as he was last year.
Fred Krupp, co-founder & Pres. of the Environmental Defense Fund (U.S.)
Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International (India)
Applause for a cause is also a Davos staple, whether it's peace in the Middle East, the end of apartheid or simply clean water.
Krupp's audience has grown in recent years as both governments and companies adopt alternative energy and sustainability practices. He's also had a hand in the UN's Kyoto Protocol and other major green initiatives.
Shetty, who took over in mid 2010, is the first Indian to head the civil rights group, which turns 50 this year. Amnesty wrestled with WikiLeaks last year when it asked the whistle-blowing outfit to remove names from leaked Afghan War logs because of concern the Taliban would assassinate them
Shi Zhengrong, Chrmn & CEO, Suntech Power (China)
Ditlev Engel, CEO & Pres. Vestas Wind Systems (Denmark)
Alternative energy is no longer on the fringe and two leading companies will be represented at Davos.
Shi founded the world's leading supplier of crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) modules, which has customers in some 80 countries and trades on the NYSE, and is a symbol of China's ascension in the solar industry
Europe is the leader in wind power, and Denmark's Vestas is the largest producer, seller and installer of wind turbines. Engel has lead the company since 2005, overseeing its boom.
Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, CEO & Pres., Petrobras (Brazil)
Khalid A. Al-Falih, CEO & Pres. Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabia)
Energy prices and big oil will certainly get more attention than a year ago, when the global recession choked demand and kept prices low. No doubt enjoying the recent run-up are Azevedo and Al-Falih.
Brazil is a rising star in the oil industry and Azevedo is at the helm of an the largest corporation in South America. A former university professor, Azevedo became CEO of the semi-private state oil company in 2005.
Al-Falih became CEO of the world's largest oil company based on market cap in 2009, having worked there for more than 30 years. He received a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University.
Dimtri Medvedev, President of Russia
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia
Two other energy powerhouses will be represented at Davos by their heads of government.
Medvedev became Rusisia's third president in 2008 and has made economic modernization a priority. He is also a former chairman of the board at Gazprom and top aide to Vladimir Putin.
(Medvedev delayed his departure Monday because of the Moscow airport bombing.)
Yudhoyono is serving his second term as president of the world's fifth most populous country and influential OPEC member. A former military general, Yudhoyono's forged a free trade agreement with Japan in 2007.
John T. Chambers, CEO & Pres. Cisco Systems (US)
Yang Yuanqing, CEO, Lenovo (China)
Chambers and Cisco are riding high again, capitalizing on the networking boom, as well as an aggressive approach to clean tech Chambers has compared the green space to the Internet, calling it the key to US future. He's a Davos veteran.
Yang is on his second tour as CEO, having held that post when Lenovo acquired IBM's PC business in 2005. He's considered one of Chinas' top entrepreneurs and managers, having made Lenovo the country's top selling PC since 1997.
Azim Premji, Founder & Chairman, Wipro Ltd (India)
S. (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, CEO Infosys Technologies (India)
These two firms symbolize India's ascension in IT.
Premji is one of the richest men in the world and is also known a as philanthropist. The company started out in food oils and consumer products, later branching into software with Wipro Technologies.
Gopalakrishnan helped found Infosys in 1981 and became CEO in 2007.
Lakshmi N. Mittal Chairman & CEO Arcelor/Mittal (India/UK)
Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO, Renault-Nissan Alliance (Brazil)
These two companies personify the global economy, applying cross-border mergers and alliances to grow and succeed.
Mittal has become one of the richest men in the world through a series of steel industry acquisitions The company has operations in 18 countries and its stock trades in half a dozen countries.
A Lebanese Brazilian-born executive running a French-Japanese company, that's Ghosn. First, he turned around a money-hemorrhaging Nissan. Then, in 1999, he formed a cross-shareholding arrangement with Renault of France, creating the world's third largest automaker.
Indra Nooyi, Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo
Robert Polet, CEO & President of Gucci Group
Consumer products giants cross national boundaries perhaps like no others. So, what's wrong with a little fizz and style at Davos?
Nooyi, a former chair at Davos, played strategic roles in the companies restructuring and acquisitions before taking over the corner office in 2007, and has presided over the company's earnings surge.
Polet spent almost three decades at Unilever (ice cream and frozen foods) before taking over at the style icon, a unit of France's PPP, in 2004. Polet is credited with reviving the company's fortunes.
Shimon Peres, President of Israel
Jacob G. Zuma, President of South Africa
Davos has a United Nations-like quality to it. For every world leader, there's a head of state or government from a smaller, yet influential country.
Peres, nearing 90, has been to Davos wearing many hats over the years. He's one of the rare people to be both head of state and government, having served two terms as prime minister, and lived through the best and worst of times in Israel's history.
Like another president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, Zuma was imprisoned and exiled before becoming a member of parliament in post-apartheid South Africa. Zuma became president in 2009, following a power struggle to succeed President Thabo Mbeki.