PLACE OF BIRTH: ERZINCAN, TURKEY
TITLE: FOUNDER AND CEO, CHOBANI
IMPACT: HAMDI ULUKAYA CAME TO THE U.S. FROM TURKEY IN 1994 TO STUDY AT ADELPHI
UNIVERSITY and was disappointed by the quality of cheese and yogurt in the States. He was soon importing feta from his family’s farm and then bought a defunct Kraft yogurt factory in upstate New York to create the yogurt of his childhood. Today, Chobani is a top-selling yogurt brand, valued at $3 billion to $5 billion, with the largest yogurt processing plant in the world, a one-million-square-foot facility in Idaho. The Kurdish CEO is also a major philanthropist: He has signed the Buffett/Gates Giving Pledge and announced he will donate the majority of his nearly $2 billion in personal wealth to helping refugees around the world. And he has taken a particularly progressive approach to management: In April, he surprised Chobani’s 2,000 full-time employees by giving them shares collectively worth up to 10 percent of the company when it goes public or is sold.
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