Old job: President of South Africa, 1994-1999
New image: After decades leading South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle and a historic presidency, "Madiba" was already a global icon. But in the years since his retirement, Mandela has established himself as the African continent's foremost elder statesman as well. He has founded the Nelson Mandela Foundation to promote conflict resolution, the Nelson Mandela Institute to promote education and rural development in South Africa, and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund to promote the rights of young people. In 2007, Mandela brought together a group of gracefully aging world leaders including Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to form The Elders, a group that speaks out on human rights issues from Burma to Sudan.
Although Mandela has achieved near sainthood in his home country, it would be wrong to say there are no blemishes on his record. But Mandela has used his post-presidency to address some of these shortcomings. In 2005, Mandela spoke publicly and candidly about his son's death from AIDS, helping to combat the stigma around the disease that was largely unaddressed during his presidency. In 2008, Mandela broke years of silence to condemn his one-time ally Robert Mugabe for creating an atmosphere of chaos and violence in Zimbabwe.