13. LAURENS VAN DEN ACKER (45, Dutch)
VP corporate design, Renault
Key cars: 2001 Ford Escape, Mazda Nagare and Ryuga
Having gained global experience from a series of superb concepts for Mazda and Ford, van den Acker had some big shoes to fill in 2009 when he took over for Patrick le Quement, who had been at Renault for twenty-two years. Reporting directly to chief operating officer Patrick Pelata, van den Acker is now in charge of the Renault and Dacia brands and has some 460 staff spread across three continents. He has been tasked by Pelata to make "great cars." Improving on current dull Renaults shouldn't be hard, but being allowed to vent his full design creativity within a business needing surefire sales hits might be.