Six new CEOs, including at Macy's and Uber, will face the hot seat in 2018

Major companies shake things up with new CEOs

Next year is shaping up to be a critical time in the life of six global companies, according to Jeff Sonnenfeld of the Yale University School of Management.

Macy's and Uber rank among Sonnenfeld's list, which also includes the overhaul at General Electric and the malpractice that ran unchecked at Wells Fargo. Sonnenfeld debuted his picks on "Squawk on the Street" on Wednesday.

Separately, Sonnenfield surveyed more than 120 chief executives at the Yale Summit on Dec. 18 to discover how they think President Donald Trump is doing to further the U.S. economy and trade.

"Eighty-one percent of attendees surveyed … are embarrassed by President Trump's representation of the United States' interests and image on the world stage," Sonnenfeld said.

The same poll found two-thirds of CEOs are disappointed in Trump's trade policy.

Here's Sonnenfeld's take on the six CEOs in the hot seat:


Jeff Gennette, CEO, Macy's
Getty Images

Newly appointed Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette is running a tighter ship, Sonnenfeld said. Despite nearly 70 stores closing this year, Macy's sales are climbing.


Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.
Matthew Staver | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The culture of Uber is yet to be fixed by Dara Khosrowshahi, Sonnenfeld said. He said the tumultuous management and division among the board mean much work is to be done. In his first high-profile appearance since becoming CEO, Khosrowshahi said the whole Uber board agrees the company should go public by 2019.

General Electric

John Flannery, chief executive officer of GE.
Leanne Miller | CNBC

Overdue board changes and a broad restructuring of the company dominate General Electric's story, Sonnenfeld said. He believes CEO John Flannery is "up to the task" to lead a turnaround at GE.


Ford Motor Company president and CEO James Hackett
Rebecca Cook | Reuters

New CEO Jim Hackett "is a philosopher king" who can be "effective in execution," Sonnenfeld said. Since taking over at Ford's helm in May, Hackett has pushed speed as a priority in shaking up the automaker. Sonnenfeld questions the decision by Ford's board to remove Mark Fields, saying it "was a big mistake."

Wells Fargo

CEO and President of Wells Fargo & Company Timothy Sloan
Getty Images

"I think Wells Fargo is a story that doesn't get the celebration it should," Sonnenfeld said, highlighting a new board and numerous senior management replacements after Tim Sloan replaced John Stumpf in October 2016 in the wake of the bank's phony accounts scandal. Since the changes, Wells Fargo has "been accountable and transparent" and has cooperated with investigations of malpractice, Sonnenfeld said.


Kevin Johnson of Starbucks speaks at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders at McCaw Hall in Seattle, Washington.
Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

Starbucks is in good shape, according to Sonnenfeld. However, he raised questions about the selection of Kevin Johnson to succeed Howard Schultz, asking if Johnson would be able to navigate Schultz "standing over" the new CEO. Starbucks did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.