An MBA is a common stepping stone to a good career as a business executive. As a result, it should come as no surprise that ambitious people frequently apply to graduate management schools in the hopes of advancing their careers faster if they are accepted into an MBA program. If you’re an MBA candidate seeking motivation, consider the stories of Fortune 500 CEOs who have completed an MBA. Continue reading to learn about the various business schools that have enrolled some of the future Fortune 500 CEOs.
Barra, the first female CEO of General Motors, started working for the company when she was 18 years old and needed money to pay for college. Barra moved on to Stanford after getting her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University, which was then known as the General Motors Institute. Stanford Graduate School of Business in California was the B-school where she earned her MBA degree.
Before joining Whirlpool, Bitzer worked for the Boston Consulting Group in Toronto and Munich for eight years as a management consultant. He joined Whirlpool as a vice president in the European division in 1999 and rose through the ranks to become president of the North American branch and president of U.S. operations. He was then promoted to vice chairman, where he was in charge of directing the company’s operations in numerous locations, including North America, the Middle East, and Africa. St. Gallen Graduate School of Business, Economics and Law in Switzerland was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Boudreaux earned two Ivy League degrees before entering the health-care industry, including a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and an MBA from Columbia University. In addition to her academic achievements, Boudreaux was a standout athlete. She was a member of the Dartmouth basketball team during a period in which the squad won three Ivy League championships and was named Ivy League Player of the Year three times. Columbia Business School in New York City was the B-school where she earned her MBA degree.
Broussard held executive positions in a variety of health-care enterprises before becoming the CEO of an insurance company, including pharmaceutical corporations, surgical facilities, and dental networks. He was the CEO of McKesson Specialty/US Oncology Inc. before joining Humana. McKesson Specialty/US Oncology Inc. was formed when a health care services and information technology company acquired a network of community-based oncologists. C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Burritt has been the CEO of U.S. Steel since May 2017, a company that provides steel components to makers of machinery such as household appliances, autos, and farming equipment. He joined the company as executive vice president and chief financial officer in 2013. He was previously the chief financial officer of Caterpillar Inc., a construction equipment company. University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign College of Business was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Cecere is an Italian immigrant whose family owned and operated a restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston with a bachelor’s degree. Cecere was the corporation’s vice chairman and chief operating officer before taking on his current positions at Bancorp. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Cook said in a 2013 talk at Duke University that the university’s business school taught him many important lessons. The millionaire joined Apple in 1988 after graduating from Auburn University in Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Cook is one of the few openly LGBTQ CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses, and he wrote a personal essay in 2014 about how his sexual orientation has influenced his perspective as an executive. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Since 2009, the Cigna health insurance corporation has provided considerable financial advantages to shareholders and increased revenues under Cordani’s leadership. Cordani devotes a large amount of time to philanthropy outside of his day job, and his family maintains a foundation that promotes health-related charitable initiatives. He has completed over 125 triathlons and is the co-author of “The Courage to Go Forward: The Power of Micro Communities.” Barney School of Business at the University of Hartford in Connecticut was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Duckett formerly held leadership roles at Chase Bank and Fannie Mae before joining the TIAA financial services organisation. She serves on the boards of several charitable organisations, including Sesame Workshop, which produces high-quality educational media for children. Duckett established The Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation to honour her parents’ memory, which provides scholarships and grants as well as facilitates volunteering in North Texas. Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business in Texas was the B-school where she earned her MBA.
The CEO of Lowe’s was previously the CEO of J.C. Penney Co. Ellison was J.C. Penney’s first African-American CEO and has vast retail expertise, including time spent as a senior executive at Home Depot and Target. In 2020 and 2021, Barron’s magazine included Ellison to their list of “Top CEOs.” Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Fink founded BlackRock, an investing and asset management firm, with seven business partners in 1998. Fink has appeared on Barron’s magazine’s annual list of “World’s Best CEOs” more than a dozen times. He graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in real estate. Anderson School of Management at the University of California—Los Angeles was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Fraser was the company’s president before becoming the first female CEO of the multinational banking business in 2021, and she had various other leadership posts during her time at the bank, which she joined in 2004. Fraser was a former partner with the consulting firm McKinsey and Co., and she began her career at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Harvard Business School in Boston was the B-school where she earned her MBA degree.
Gass received the National Retail Federation’s “The Visionary” award for the best retail executives in January 2020. Gass was chosen by the federation because she has expanded her company’s business and culture. Gass was named “Executive of the Year” in the retail sector by Retail Dive in 2019. The former Starbucks executive is the first female CEO at Kohl’s. Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington was the B-school where she earned her MBA degree.
Hochschild was the business’s chief operating officer for 14 years before becoming the CEO of the Discover credit card corporation. He previously worked for Morgan Stanley, a financial services and investment banking firm, as executive vice president, chief administrative and strategy officer. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
In 2019, Hsu took over the company that makes well-known paper products including Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers. In 2012, he was named group president of Kimberly-North Clark’s American consumer products division. Hsu formerly held leadership positions with Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz. He began his career as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he rose through the ranks to become a partner in the firm’s consumer branch. University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Kelly was the president and CEO of Intersection, a tech and media startup, before joining Visa. He also spent over two decades of his career as president of American Express. Kelly worked for the White House as a manager of information systems during the Reagan administration. Prior to it, he worked in strategic planning at PepsiCo. LaPenta School of Business at Iona College in New York was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Khalaf has worked in the insurance industry for almost three decades. When his previous employer, American Life Insurance Co., or Alico, was acquired by MetLife in 2010, he started working for them. His first position with MetLife was as the division’s CEO for the Middle East, South Africa, and South Asia. He progressed through the MetLife levels and was named president and CEO of the company in 2019. Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management in New York was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Laguarta has worked for the PepsiCo food and beverage firm for more than two decades, climbing through the ranks in Europe. One of his priorities as CEO is to increase the company’s product packaging’s environmental sustainability. Laguarta was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, and is fluent in English, Spanish, French, German, Greek, and Catalan. ESADE Business School in Spain was the B-school where he earned his degree.
In 2021, Lynch was named CEO of CVS Health. She came with more than three decades of health-care experience, including a term as executive vice president of CVS Health. Lynch was named to Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list for six years in a row, from 2016 to 2021, and she was No. 1 on the list in 2021. Boston University’s Questrom School of Business was the B-school where she earned her MBA degree.
McMillon, a native of Arkansas, began his career at Walmart as a teenager, unloading the company’s trucks. He is currently the CEO of Walmart, the Fortune 500’s biggest company. His MBA is in finance, which is a lucrative MBA specialization. University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business in Oklahoma was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Miebach was the company’s president and chief product officer before becoming CEO of Mastercard in 2021. Miebach has helped Mastercard in expanding its offerings, which now include not only credit cards but also payment platforms for corporations, governments, and individuals. He joined Mastercard in 2010, when he was appointed to oversee the company’s Middle East and Africa business. Miebach previously worked for Barclays Bank and Citibank in high posts. University of Passau in Germany was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Parker has extensive experience in the aviation sector as a C-suite executive. After the firm merged with US Airways, where Parker was chair and CEO at the time, Parker took over as CEO of American Airlines in 2013. Parker was named CEO of US Airways in 2005 when the company merged with America West, where he had previously served as chairman, president, and CEO. Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management in Tennessee was the Doug Parker, chair and CEO of American Airlines Group.
Pichai, who was born in India, acquired a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur and a scholarship to Stanford University in California to pursue a master’s degree in material science and engineering. Pichai then went on to Penn to get his MBA. He joined Google in 2004 as its head of product management and development, quickly rising through the ranks to become the company’s CEO in 2015. In 2019, he was named CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. University of Pennsylania’s Wharton School was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Ricks has worked for the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company for more than two decades. He joined the company as a business development associate in 1996 and has worked there ever since. He has held leadership positions at the corporation in the United States, China, and Canada during his time there. He graduated from Purdue University in Indiana with a bachelor’s degree in science. Kelley School of Business at Indiana University was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Sankaran spent a decade at PepsiCo, where he held a range of leadership positions, including CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America, before becoming the CEO of one of the country’s largest food and medicine merchants and grocery store chains. He was a former partner with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. He also has a manufacturing master’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Schulman was a business leader in a variety of industries before joining PayPal, a financial services company, in 2014. He worked in telecommunications, finance, and technology. He was previously named one of the top ten CEOs in the world by Fortune magazine. Schulman studied at Middlebury College in Vermont for his undergraduate degree. Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Scott started his career in business in 1988 with Lear, an automotive technology company. Before becoming CEO, he served as president of the company’s Seating and E-Systems divisions. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Scott serves on a number of boards, including the alumni board of his business school. Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at Michigan State University was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Tomé was named CEO of UPS in 2020 after serving on the company’s board of directors since 2003. She previously worked for The Home Depot Inc. as an executive vice president and chief financial officer. The value of Home Depot’s shareholders increased by 450 % over her 18 years as CFO. Finance was her MBA specialisation. University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business was the B-school where she earned her MBA degree.
In 2017, Vounatsos took over as CEO of Biogen, a biotechnology company. He was hired by Biogen in 2016, and his first position there was executive vice president and chief commercial officer. He previously worked for Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical business, for two decades, holding several leadership positions and gradually increasing his degree of responsibility in the United States, Europe, and China. HEC Paris was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
In 2017, Vounatsos took over as CEO of Biogen, a biotechnology company. He was hired by Biogen in 2016, and his first position there was executive vice president and chief commercial officer. He previously worked for Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical company, for two decades, holding several leadership positions and gradually increasing his degree of responsibility in the United States, Europe, and China. George Washington University School of Business in Washington, D.C. was the B-school where he earned his MBA degree.
Darren Woods earned degrees in engineering and business before taking the helm at ExxonMobil and becoming a leader in the oil and gas industry. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University, in addition to an MBA. When his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, was named Secretary of State in the Trump administration, Woods became chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil in January 2017. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Illinois was the B-school where he earned his MBA.
If you’re applying to business school because you want to break into a competitive industry or advance in your current one, finding a school that will help you attain your ideal job is essential. Study the employment statistics in the U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings to determine which programs will best prepare you for a successful career.
Ques.1 Which business school has the greatest proportion of CEOs?
While no single school can claim to have launched the careers of these CEOs, Boston College and Texas A&M University, along with the University of Pennsylvania, are tied for the most CEOs in charge of Fortune 500 top 100 companies.
Ques.2 What steps do you take to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company?
The road to becoming a Fortune 500 CEO may require more than just a graduate degree, but make no mistake: it almost always includes a visit at one (or two) of the country’s colleges and universities. While most top CEOs have a bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree, there is no particular major or graduate degree that they all have.
Ques.3 What kind of experience do most CEOs have?
A master’s degree in business administration, economics, management, or another similar field is common among CEOs.
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