Philadelphia Business Journal: Most Admired CEOs - What Makes them Tick?

Posted on Dec 08, 2017

The Philadelphia Business Journal celebrates the Most Admired CEOs of 2017 by digging into their stories and the secrets to their success. 

The Region's Most Admired CEOs: What Makes them Tick? 

By Craig Ey

December 7, 2017


What makes a CEO most admired? The Philadelphia Business Journal has honored the Most Admired CEOs in the region since 2014.

Over the last three years, we have come to appreciate the tremendous talent in Greater Philadelphia C-suites – at companies and organizations of all sizes. An incredible amount of innovation and creativity is happening every day in the region.

In choosing the winners of the Most Admired CEO Awards, the editorial board of the Philadelphia Business Journal looks for evidence of true leadership – at the company, organization or firm and in the community. We considered accomplishments, leadership traits and community service in picking the honorees.

We think you’ll agree that our 20 winners this year embody excellent leadership. They provide a great example to their teams and to the larger community.The winners will be honored at the Most Admired CEO Awards black-tie dinner on Dec. 7 at the Ritz Carlton in Center City.

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Most Admired CEOs. You are truly an inspiration. The attached gallery presents the Most Admired CEOs in their own words.

Mike Maher


Mike Maher is a serial entrepreneur who has cofounded three successful companies: Houwzer, Benjamin's Desk, and Bunker Labs. As a former Naval officer, he is active in the veterans community. Maher founded Houwzer, a residential real estate services company, as a certified B Corp. As part of its social mission, Houwzer has developed the Rule of 10 - giving back 2.5 percent of its profits to nonprofit partners, spending 2.5 percent of employee time volunteering in the community, and allowing for at least 5 percent employee ownership. 

Age: 35

Years at company: 3

Education: U.S. Naval Academy (2005), BS; Villanova University, MBA

Family: Wife - Jennifer, Son - John (5), Daughter - Elle (4)

Hobbies or extracurricular interests: Travel

Board memberships: Co-founder and Board member, Bunker Labs Philadelphia 

What is the most pressing issue facing our region? Philly faces the worst "Tale of Two Cities" problem in the nation. We must solve our poverty problem.

What factors most helped you get ahead in your career and contributed to your success? Relationships: So many people have supported me along the way. Execution: A laser focus on execution has been critical. 

Describe the vision you have for your organization: Our vision is to be the best real estate company in the world - enriching the live of our clients and agents while supporting our communities. 

What's the biggest risk you've ever taken? Did it work? What did you learn from it? Launching Benjamin's Desk with $100K in credit cards. It's working. Learned that the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. 

What one word best describes you? Obsessive.

Share one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn. Former Naval officer with 3 overseas deployments. 

Who is a CEO you admire and why? Nick Bayer, CEO of Saxbys Coffee, simultaneous focus on growth and impact. 

What does leadership and being a leader mean to you? Leadership is influence. I believe it separates the good from the great. 

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