Best Memorable Interviews From This Decade: Elizabeth Holmes, Adam Neumann, More | Fortune

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Since 1930, Fortune journalists have interviewed influencers from every corner of the business world. The access we get to ask questions—especially when anyone can share his or her unchecked thoughts via social media—is part of what makes our work valuable. These conversations are the heart of what we do, and they run the spectrum: Some are candid and insightful; some are contentious and pressing. As we prepare to enter into our 10th decade of reporting, we’re sharing a few of our most memorable interviews from the past 10 years.
Indra Nooyi—Sept. 21, 2017 Photograph by Spencer Heyfron PepsiCo’s CEO Opens Up About Trump, Amazon, and That Kendall Jenner Ad
In my 10-plus years at Fortune, I’ve interviewed a lot of executives. But I’ve never spoken to one as candid as former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. My most in-depth interview with her took place for our Most Powerful Women in Business issue in 2017. Her honesty as she grappled with a volatile political environment and her own decisions as a working mom was incredibly refreshing. — Beth Kowitt, Senior Editor
Adam Neumann—July 11, 2016 Photograph by STUART ISETT for Fortune Brainstorm TECH Onstage at Fortune’ s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen
Angry that Fortune had earlier named WeWork one of three unicorn startups to bet against, he articulated his case, then challenged me onstage at a Fortune event to change my mind in front of the audience. (I refused.) —Andrew Nusca, Digital Editor
Kamik Chin, Luz Arellano and James Brown III —Dec. 20, 2018 Photograph by Andre Wagner for Fortune The Shrinking Middle Class: Tales From New York City
This is a series of three interviews for a photo essay, a collaboration with photographer Andre Wagner. It appeared in Fortune ’s Shrinking Middle Class issue, which to me was one of the most memorable Fortune issues in a long time because it goes outside of Fortune ’s typical realm of big business—while still emphasizing economics and industry. These interviews candidly peeked inside the lives of everyday, struggling New Yorkers, brought to life with the help of Andre’s beautiful photography. It’s a story that I think many people were surprised, but grateful, to see featured in Fortune magazine, and I think for that reason it really stands out. — Aric Jenkins, Staff Writer
Hunter Harrison—June 30, 2017 Photograph by Melissa Golden for Fortune Investors Are Wagering $12 Billion on This 72-Year-Old Railroad Savior
I’ve interviewed everyone from fugitive Marc Rich to Donald Trump during his early-’90s comeback phase (“I hated your recent story on me,” Trump wrote to me when the story appeared), but this encounter ranked near the top as a blend of raucous entertainment and an up-close view of an authentic legend. On the Friday before the July 4 weekend in 2017, I interviewed septuagenarian railroader Hunter Harrison at his mansion in an exclusive golf course community in West Palm Beach. Months before, Harrison had retired following a spectacularly successful run saving Canadian Pacific, and parachuted into the top job at CSX; the announcement alone added several billion dollars to CSX’s market cap overnight. Harrison, resplendent in an electric-red jumpsuit, held forth for three hours, recounting his teenage days splashing in Elvis Presley’s pool in his native Memphis; his apprenticeship in a control tower fueled by coffee, cigarettes, and Tums; and his occasional battles with his Canadian Pacific backer Bill Ackman, when “Ackman’s Harvard-ness was oozing out of his pores.” During the entire interview, Harrison breathed through tubes attached to an oxygen tank, explaining that though he needed a little respiratory help, he was fully capable of upending CSX’s traditional approach to running a railroad with his daring, disruptive strategy of point-to-point delivery. Disrupt he did, and CSX prospered. Just six months later, Hunter Harrison died suddenly, and the business world lost one of its great characters, and great visionaries. — Shawn Tully, Senior Writer
Pony Ma—Dec. 6, 2017 Photograph by Vivek Prakash for Fortune Onstage at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou
I interviewed Pony Ma, co-founder and CEO of the Chinese gaming and Internet giant Tencent, at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou. Ma rarely gives interviews, and I had good reason to believe mine, in front of an audience of Western and Chinese CEOs, would not go well. In a pre-conference meeting he was reserved, giving one-word answers to my questions. Onstage, however, Ma lit up. Speaking to me through simultaneous translation, the CEO was the opposite of reserved. He criticized competitor Alibaba (whose founder, Jack Ma, isn’t related to Pony Ma), for behaving like a miserly landlord and spoke expansively about how widespread the use of Tencent’s WeChat service has become. What might have been an awkward, cross-cultural conversation turned into an illuminating and entertaining onstage interview. — Adam Lashinsky, Executive Editor
John Legere—Feb. 15, 2018 Photog...