Introducing the 2016 Next Wave: The 120 people making waves in some of the biggest industries

October 11, 2016

Today we launched the 2016 LinkedIn Next Wave, our second annual reveal of the 10 must-know names who are transforming a dozen different industries. In profile after profile, you’ll find professionals who are leading their companies, business units, peers and employees toward a future that they see more clearly than most. These risk-takers have a sense of where the world is going — and are happy to guide the rest of us there.

There are 120 examples of how that future plays out. But just to give you a taste of the range: You’ve got people like Yasmin Green, the Google executive who is using marketing insights to stop ISIS recruiting. In entertainment, Cynthia Frelund, the first predictive analytics expert at the NFL, is redefining what it means to succeed on the gridiron. In education, Christopher Gray, the contestant who incited the biggest Shark Tank fight to date, is trying to commoditize the process of getting scholarships; and in media, Daniel Lippman, who helped light up the current obsession with newsletters as co-author of Politico Playbook, is now planning what newsletters’ next act looks like.

These Next Wavers are all leading their own initiatives, but in many ways they’re also all highlighting a few big themes (check out bestselling author Joshua Cooper Ramo’s terrific essay for more on the power of knowing what’s next). For any of you looking to expand your career, take a look at the some of the big ideas that are emerging from our Next Wavers and their work:

•B2B is getting roiled

Trends and tech-driven innovation that have become common in consumer brands are starting to change the B2B world. That’s true whether you’re talking about fast fashion attacking the world of hospital scrubs to robots doing inventory checks at Walgreens.

• A strong network matters more than ever…

The Next Wave honorees have 25X more connections than the average LinkedIn member, and 10% of their connections are with senior leaders, proving that a strong network is critical to success.

• ...but your education credentials don’t

Over 60 percent of the Next Wave honorees do not have an Ivy League education and 60 percent did not attend graduate school.

• A.I. will soon be everywhere

These are still the early days, but every industry is seeing A.I. inroads, from self-driving trucks to robo-driven job interviews.

• Sustainability moves from PR to core

Many of the Next Wavers are developing businesses that tackle issues critical to the entire planet, whether that’s developing sustainable protein sources from crickets or building a vertical farm that takes up less than 1 percent of the land required of conventional growers.

Our Next Wave methodology remained the same as in 2015. To narrow down LinkedIn’s 450+ million member base to create this list, we examined millions of member interactions such as which profiles were most viewed by members in the same industry; social engagement performance and the frequency that candidates appeared in the news, using Newsle data. We limited the list to those who live in the U.S. (with international versions coming next year). We also applied an editorial lens and polled the 2015 Next Wavers to see who they’re watching now. Finally, we consulted LinkedIn Influencers such as Hotel Tonight CEO Sam Shank and CEO of Crisis Text Line Nancy Lublin to vet and suggest professionals in their industries.

We also use an age cutoff for coming up with our list: 35 and under. Our goal is to surface people who are destined to be the leaders of tomorrow, those likely to one day lead or build large companies or launch major movements. The average age of a successful tech founder is 39, according to a 2009 study by the Kauffman Foundation. We tried to find the data that would give you a sneak peek at who some of these people might be — in tech and beyond.

Throughout the year, we’ll continue to highlight what honorees are doing, what they’re finding or who is on the short list for next year.

Some great features to start with

You can follow #LinkedInNextWave on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up with the latest news on the list and to share your congratulations with those who made it.