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3 Best Big-Name CEO Hires in 2014

Can Satya Nadella, Jeffrey Clarke and Mark Fields deliver a bright future for their companies?

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What do Mark Fields, Jeffrey Clarke and Satya Nadella have in common?

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Well, all three rank among the biggest names in the 2014 class of incoming CEOs of publicly traded companies — and all three take the helm at a critical point in their corporations’ destiny.

Now comes the hard part.

While getting the top job is a rush, that exhilaration can be short lived: just ask General Motors (NYSE:GM) CEO Mary Barra, who less than 90 days into her new job faced the ire of Congress over a GM recall crisis. Another Class of 2014 CEO, Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, lasted only 10 days after his 2008 donation to the Prop 8 campaign seeking to ban same-sex marriage in California came to light and raised the ire of the LGBT community.

Even without high-profile corporate crises or PR blunders, succession planning has always been one of the biggest challenges for corporations. With the dramatic rise in executive churn, the heat is on these new CEOs to balance the competing interests of delivering shareholder value today and visionary leadership for the future.

Let’s break down Mark Fields, Jeffrey Clarke and Satya Nadella to see if they have the right stuff:

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