Tom Glocer logged nine years as an M&A associate at New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell before he signed on as deputy general counsel of Reuters America in 1993. Then his career kicked into high gear, and by 2001 he was tapped as Reuters Group plc CEO, the first American and the first nonjournalist in the top job. If the agreed $17.2 billion merger with Thomson Corp. goes through, Glocer, 48, will take the helm of the newly formed Thomson-Reuters Corp. Richard Harrington, Thomson’s own CEO, plans to retire following the deal’s completion.

A graduate of Columbia University, where he studied political philosophy and rowed crew, and Yale Law School, Glocer is a quick study. As CEO he proved both tough, slashing 4,000 jobs soon after he took over, and flexible, designing new products and services for the 155-year-old company.