JUDSON GREEN has always had a firm sense of direction. He started as a CPA at Arthur Young and Company, and in 1981, he was named a controller at the Walt Disney Company. In 1984, Green was promoted to vice president of finance and planning for Walt Disney Company. Over the next 19 years, he held several executive financial positions — including CFO — until he was named president of Disney's theme park and resort division in 1991.
Green was central in the company's expansion, including Disney Cruise Lines, Tokyo Disney, and Disneyland Paris, and signed an agreement with the Hong Kong government to build the first Disney theme park in China. He led the most ambitious decade of growth ever experienced in the theme parks and resort industry. On his watch from 1991 through 1999, Disney revenues doubled to $6 billion. Green was named chairman in 1998, a post he held until 2000.
Seeing the change in technology — and sensing the market opportunity — Green joined Navigation Technologies (NAVTEQ) in 2000. The year before, the digital mapmaker had posted losses of about $100 million. At Green's direction, 150 employees drove the roads of the United States using state-of-the-art mapping techniques. Now known as NAVTEQ, the firm grew beyond its core navigation business to a broad range of applications, such as voice-enabled maps. NAVTEQ was instrumental in launching a variety of new products, including Discover Cities, for mobile local search, and travel, including Fodor's Travel Data and Support Mobile; GPS and WiFi devices; and Traffic Patterns Database, which uses historic data as a basis for predicting traffic behavior and enhancing routes.
With an eye on the bottom line, Green led NAVTEQ through a successful $880 million IPO in August 2004. During 2007, the company boosted profits by 57 percent. That October, the cell phone giant Nokia agreed to buy NAVTEQ for $8.1 billion.