42% of Top Fortune 100 Chiefs Have MBA Degrees

Business school may be your ticket to the boardroom. More than 40% of the chief executive officers in the top 100 Fortune companies have studied for an MBA, according to research from Heidrick & Struggles, the executive search firm.

The data show that studying at an elite business school could be your best bet for becoming a CEO. In the US, 28% of the Fortune 100 chiefs graduated from seven top universities: Harvard, Stanford, Pennsylvania, Berkeley, Columbia, MIT, and Princeton. Harvard Business School has seven CEOs at top European companies alone. These include Vittorio Colao at telecoms group Vodafone, and Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, the world’s largest advertising group. Columbia’s CEO alumni are James Gorman, at US bank Morgan Stanley, and César Alierta, at telecoms group Telefónica, among others. Stanford counts Carlos Brito, CEO of brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, as alumni. Berkeley graduated Joseph Jimenez, the chief of pharma group Novartis, and Shantanu Narayen, head at software company Adobe. (Business Because)

Also, a recent study by the Journal of Management Inquiry showed that CEOs who have achieved and had opportunity to exploit their fame—were more apt than their counterparts to engage in self-serving behavior that benefits them but disadvantages their companies. Of 444 star CEOs celebrated on the covers of major business publications, this survey confirmed that an MBA education either fosters or is related to such behavior among these executives. (The Washington Post)

In the recent ranking by Harvard Business Review of the 100 Best Performing CEOs, only three of the top 10 have MBAs.

Matt Williams, CEO of The Martin Agency, famous for putting comedic GEICO commercials on the map in the ’90s, spoke at the University of Richmond about the benefit of an MBA. He said he decided to go back to school because he thought an MBA would help him relate better to the agency’s clients. “That did happen, but it happened only marginally,” he said. “What the primary benefit of the MBA was to me was that it allowed me to step back and look at The Martin Agency as a company, and not just as an advertising agency,” Richmond BizSense reported.

In doing so, Williams said he began to think about the other sides of the business: accounting, long-term strategic planning, human resources, organizational development – “all the things that a general manager is taught to think about in an MBA program,” he said. “It was really eye-opening, and I loved it,” he said. “And it made me realize, number one, how special this company is, but it also made me realize how broad-sweeping the job of a CEO is: It’s not to work in the company; it’s to work on the company.”

Heidrick & Struggles’ data also show that more top business leaders are opting for postgraduate degrees, Business Because reports. Around 12% more UK chiefs have a masters or doctorate than two years ago. In Germany, the figure is 7%, although engineering and doctoral degrees are dominant in the Dax 30 and MDax 50 indexes, rather than MBAs; the US 5%; France 3%. The data echo similar findings published by other researchers this year, which show top business schools are continuously producing the top senior executives.


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