Nine Leading Innovators You Should Know

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Standing out in the crowd means having the confidence to innovate when others just keep doing what others have. Innovative entrepreneurs, CEOs, engineers, designers, and companies work on the bleeding edge of what’s possible. Innovation inspires innovation.

You’re probably aware of the Elon Musks and Jeff Bezoses of the world, but this list contains some names you may not be as familiar with. If you’re looking to innovate, then it might not hurt to watch that these individuals are working on (in no particular order):


Jony Ive, Apple Chief Design Officer

Do you have an Apple Watch? Do you want one? In either case, thank Ive, the architect behind the Apple Watch. Even if you are not an Apple fan, the elegant design has become the standard by which other watches are judged in this space. Ive oversees all design for Apple, including products, packaging, and stores.


Min-Liang Tan, Razer Co-Founder and CEO

If you are unfamiliar with Razer, the gaming products company is responsible for the OSVR (Open Source Virtual Reality). And Tan is the creative visionary behind both the common standard for VR and the trajectory of Razer.


Jennifer Tejada, CEO, PagerDuty

PagerDuty counts IBM and Panasonic among their Fortune 500 clients. Their software lets these companies respond to customers in real time. Tejada rose to CEO in 2016, after leading Keynote. That year, PagerDuty made Deloitte’s list of fastest growing companies in North America.


Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Windows 10 marked Microsoft moving into a platform-centric company, steered by Nadella. Moving to Windows-as-a-Service will make Windows, in general, more platform-neutral. The move represents a paradigm shift for the company as a whole.


Ekta Sahasi, Konica Minolta

Vice President of Konica Minolta’s U.S. Business Innovation Center, Sahasi has made a place for herself in Silicon Valley. She is regarded as a leader and an innovator. Inc. magazine described her as, “responsible for driving the company’s transformation by leveraging the startup ecosystem to help the company expand in new areas.”


Lei Jun, Xiaomi Co-Founder and CEO

Xiaomi might not be a household name, but as the third largest smartphone distributor, it certainly has a large effect on the tech marketplace. Lei carved a path to the top as a high-quality designer of smartphones under budget. Now overseeing Xiaomi, Lei has led the charge for the development of a broader range of products––including wearable devices, tablets, and smart TVs.


Jack Ma, Alibaba Co-Founder and CEO

Ma is one of the founders of one of the world’s most successful e-commerce businesses, Alibaba. You might not be as familiar with it here in the U.S. with the proliferation of Amazon, but it is worth noting. Ma is pushing for an Alibaba mobile OS and wants to dominate the mobile internet as part of its forward-leaning growth structure.


Jessica Matthews, Founder, Uncharted Power

Uncharted Power’s Soccket product is a soccer ball that produces energy when you play with it. Its inventor, Jessica Matthews–only 26 years old–raised $7 million to bring it to life. She grew up in Nigeria where electric power was unreliable. She says, “I believe that innovation lives between a rock and a hard place.” In other words, noticing the struggles around you can generate ideas for brilliant solutions.


Gitanjali Rao, Winner of 3M’s 2017 Young Scientist Competition

We saved the youngest for last. In the sixth grade, Rao took top prize in the competition with a Bluetooth-enabled device for detecting lead in drinking water. She lives in Colorado, but hearing about lead contamination in Flint, Michigan inspired her to take action. She aspires to become a geneticist or an epidemiologist, so who knows what great things she might accomplish someday?


IMAGE: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

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