MacLennan took the reins at Cargill in December 2013, becoming just the ninth chief executive in the company’s 150 years. Cargill, with annual revenue of about $135 billion, is one of the world’s largest privately held companies.

What happened: It was a challenging 2014 for MacLennan. Cargill’s earnings dropped 26 percent in its most recent quarter and fell 19 percent in its fiscal year ending May 31, though the behemoth still earned $1.87 billion for that full fiscal year. Cargill’s core grain business was hurt by everything from rail car shortages in North America to China’s rejection of some U.S. corn exports. Meanwhile, Cargill’s new $350 million chicken processing development in China — currently one of its biggest capital projects — has been hurt by a drop in Chinese chicken demand.