2. SHIRO NAKAMURA (60, Japanese)
Senior VP and chief creative officer of design, Nissan
Key cars: Nissan Cube and 350Z, Infiniti FX45 and Essence
Nakamura is the man who put Japanese car design on the map after decades of copycat designs. Headhunted from under-the-radar Isuzu in 1999, he oversaw an onslaught of radical concepts and high-selling production cars as part of Carlos Ghosn's Nissan Revival Plan. Included in the list are, from Nissan, the Cube, the 350Z, the Murano, the Juke, and, in Europe, various Micras and the Qashqai, as well as the FX45 and the Essence concept for Infiniti. Key to his success is not only his ability and work ethic -- he allegedly often works twelve hours per day from a chauffeur-driven GT-R -- but also his skill and willingness to communicate his designs' relevance internally and externally and his global experience (he studied at Art Center in the United States and has worked in Europe and Japan). Bonus fun fact: Nakamura was a jazz bass player before embarking on his career in the car industry.