4. ED WELBURN (59, American)
VP of global design, General Motors
Key cars: GM Autonomy, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro
Welburn is only the sixth person to serve as head of design in the history of General Motors and, in 2005, he became the first to hold the newly created position of global design VP. Five years later, he oversees ten design centers in eight countries and a team of some 1500 people. GM's brand portfolio may have shrunk in 2009, but Welburn has marshaled significant changes in aesthetics and quality for the brands that are left in America, with Buick (Enclave, LaCrosse), Cadillac (CTS), Chevrolet (Malibu, Camaro), and even GMC (Granite concept), plus others around the world. Before all this, he also led the excellent GM Autonomy and Hy-wire fuel-cell projects as director of advanced design. Big job, (relatively) low profile.