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Fortune honors three Duke alums in ‘The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders’ list

Fortune magazine recently named Melinda Gates, Trinity ’86 and Fuqua ’87; Tim Cook, Fuqua ’88; and Michael Sorrell, MPP ’90 and Law School ’94, as three of the “World's 50 Greatest Leaders.”

Every year, the magazine features people who are changing the world. This year’s list focuses on the theme of unbundling—the idea of “disaggregating” or “delegating functions once regarded as necessary parts of the whole.” 

Here are the Duke alums that made Fortune’s list:

Melinda Gates

Gates, who was featured on her own last year, came in at number two this year alongside her husband Bill Gates. The couple was recognized for fighting malaria and other diseases through their work at the Gates Foundation, which they cofounded. The list specifically mentioned Melinda Gates’ advocacy of eliminating sexual discrimination in the technology industry. In her speech at SXSW earlier this year, she spoke about the evolving workplace.

“You know we can’t keep building the same old blueprint that created the old boys club,” Gates said. “What you can do is insist on equality in the workplace.”

Tim Cook

Checking in at 14 on Fortune's list was Cook. As CEO of Apple, he is no stranger to leadership accolades. Cook has been featured multiple times on the Time 100 and Forbes magazine’s “World’s Most Powerful People.” Fortune specifically highlighted his leadership in Apple’s fight for privacy rights against China, and the CEO mentioned privacy rights during his 2018 commencement address at Duke.

“Tim’s contributions to technology and his advocacy for social justice make him the perfect person to inspire the Class of 2018,” President Vincent Price wrote in a January email to the Duke community. “Tim Cook has embodied Duke’s commitment to delivering knowledge in service to society.”

Michael Sorrell

Sorrell came in at Perhaps not a household name like Gates or Cook, Sorrell has led his own revolution, the magazine noted. Specifically, Sorrell—who became president of Paul Quinn College in 2007 when it was “closer to a garbage dump,” in his own words—was able to get the historically black college in Dallas back on its feet—and push it ahead. According to the list, Sorrell solicited the school’s first-ever donation over a million dollars and increased the size of the student body to about 500.

Sorrell spoke at the Law School’s graduation convocation May 12.

Likhitha Butchireddygari

Follow Likhitha on Twitter

Class of 2019

Editor-in-chief 2017-18, 

Local and national news department head 2016-17

Born in Hyderabad, India, Likhitha Butchireddygari moved to Baltimore at a young age. She is pursuing a Program II major entitled "Digital Democracy and Data" about the future of the American democracy.


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