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What Made These Five Business Leaders Step Down in 2018 A look at some of the top high-profile exits this year that made it to the headlines

By Komal Nathani

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

As 2018 comes to an end, we notice how this year has seen the departures of some of the best business leaders who served for the longest time to their companies. From Alibaba chairman Jack Ma's voluntary retirement to the first women CEO of food and beverage company Pepsico, the APAC region has subsequently seen a major number of CEOs leaving their corporate jobs to do something different with their lives.

Take a look at some of the top high-profile exits this year that made it to the headlines:

Wikipedia

Nestle Zone Asia CEO Wan Ling Martello

What happened?

Wan Ling Martello decided to step down after seven successful years in the Asia zone of global food and beverage company Nestle. The 60-year-old will bid adieu to Nestle year-end as she looks forward to exploring new horizons of life. Martello's exit is one of the high-profile exits in the history of Nestle after Mark Schneider (Ex-CEO) left the company.

Future Goals

Speculations were ripe that Martello might be looking at taking the position of chief executive officer in Unilever.

Wikipedia

Pepsico Chairman Indra Nooyi

What happened?

This year October PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi stepped down from her position after working for more than 23 years at the food and beverage giant. Nooyi is one of the few women executives in the world to run an S&P 500 company. In fact, the day she put down her papers, the company posted a stronger than expected quarterly profit. Nooyi had spent 12 years of her life as chief executive officer at PepsiCo.

Future Goals

The 62-year-old trailblazer is now looking forward to spending time with her family and goes on travelling to new places.

Wikipedia

Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma

What happened?

The founder of Alibaba, Chinese e-commerce giant Jack Ma announced that he will step down as the company's chairman by 2019 September. The 54-year-old released a letter, where he said he will be succeeded by Daniel Zhang as chief executive officer, who is an 11-year-old veteran in company. Though the 54-year-old Ma would remain on the company's board until 2020 and would remain in the Alibaba Partnership, a group of senior longtime managers who exercise significant control over the business and its affiliates.

Future Goals

The teacher-turned-entrepreneur said, "It will be the beginning of a new era" on his plans of retiring from Alibaba. Ma said he wants to focus on education again as he is really fond of teaching and educating.

Wikipedia

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao

What happened?

The chief executive officer of the telecom giant Vodafone, Vittorio Colao stepped down this October after serving for 10 long years. Colao struck some major deals while running company's Asia-pacific, Middle-east, Britain and Africa operations. Under his leadership at Vodafone, the company was reshaped from a typical telecom firm to the digital communications powerhouse. Colao was departure came amid the company's plan of merging Vodafone's India operations with Indian company Idea Cellular.

Future Goals

In an interview with Bloomberg LP, Colao said, "I am going to be working flat out until October and then I will thinking and evaluating more alternatives and options."

Wikipedia

Omnicom Media Group Asia-Pacific’s Lee Smith

What happened?

The world's largest advertising group Omnicom Media Group saw a surprising exit this year. One of the longest serving business leaders Lee Smith put down his papers to start his own venture. After working at Omnicom's Toronto operations for five years, Smith moved to Singapore in 2009 where he spearheaded the media group's digital division. During his tenure, the company saw a major growth in the APAC operations.

Future Goals

Lee Smith will be starting up in 2019.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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