After leading United Airlines through eight tumultuous years, CEO Glenn Tilton has emerged as "one of America's most resilient and underestimated chief executives," according to the Chicago Tribune. Once derided as an industry outsider, Tilton brought an analytical, unemotional management style that won over the board of directors, giving him wide latitude in making painful decisions such as eliminating the company's pension plan. Industry watchers say Tilton brought United "back from the brink," though the task of building a stronger company will likely be left to others after United merges with Continental Airlines.

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