Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

From MBA To CEO: Graduates Leading World's Largest Companies

From Apple to JPMorgan Chase, the number of large listed companies led by MBA graduates is on the rise. But which CEOs studied at which business schools?

Tue Jan 27 2015

The number of MBA graduates leading the world’s largest publically traded companies is on the rise.   

From Apple, the tech star that was the world's most valuable business in 2014, to JPMorgan Chase, the largest US bank by assets, a plethora of leading corporations are led by CEOs who once walked the halls of the most recognizable business schools.

Business schools place much value in their alumni. They provide an indication of what students can eventually achieve in their careers. For many, an MBA is seen as a route to more senior management positions.

In the FT500, a grouping of listed companies with the largest market capitalizations, the percentage of MBA alumni who are chief executives has nudged upwards 2% to 31% in a year.

The fluctuating value of the companies means this figure may shift, but from Microsoft to Banco Santander and from Shire to General Electric, a growing stock of chief executives can count some of their success to business schools like Harvard, Wharton and INSEAD.

Top Business Schools Producing Corporate Leaders

Pascal Soriot – AstraZeneca

Drugs giant AstraZeneca made headlines in 2014 for rebuffing an audacious £69.4 billion takeover offer from Pfizer of the US. The man behind that defence was Pascal Soriot. He graduated from the MBA at HEC Paris, a leading French business school, in 1986. He became chief executive of UK-based AstraZeneca in 2012. NYSE-listed AstraZeneca has 39,000 employees and a market cap of £59 billion.

Rafael Villaseca Marco – Gas Natural

Gas Natural is a Spanish natural gas utilities company that has 20 million customers in 25 countries, with footholds in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. It is fitting that a graduate of Spain’s highest-ranking business school went on to lead the country’s energy darling. Rafael Villaseca Marco, chief executive, graduated from IESE Business School’s MBA in 1976. He became chief of Gas Natural in 2005. The gas group has 17,000 employees and a market cap of €21 billion.

Muhtar Kent – Coca-Cola

The carbonated soft drinks group Coca-Cola has faced difficulty convincing health-conscious consumers to glug its sweet nectar. The man trying to make the world’s most iconic drinks brand fizz is Muhtar Kent, a graduate of Cass Business School in London. He graduated from its MBA in 1977, and joined the US-based company in 2008. Coca-Cola, whose consumers drink 10,000 of its soft drinks every second, apparently, has a market cap of $189 billion.

André Calantzopoulos – Philip Morris International

INSEAD boasts two arguably well-known corporate chiefs: António Horta-Osório, who heads Lloyds, the UK bank, and André Calantzopoulos, CEO of Philip Morris International. Smokers will know the latter well; Philip Morris is the world’s largest tobacco company outside China. It owns brands including Marlboro. CEO André graduated from INSEAD’s MBA in 1984. He rose to chief executive of Philip Morris in 2013. The US-based company, which had 91,000 employees in 2013, has a market cap of $127 billion.

Jeffrey Immelt – General Electric

General Electric, the American multinational conglomerate, has businesses ranging from energy to financial services. Its chief executive Jeffrey Immelt graduated from Harvard Business School’s MBA in 1982. It is a fitting background: GE is one of MBA students’ most popular companies to work for. Jeffrey took the lead of the company in 2001. He is perhaps most well-known for his $16.9 billion bid for French industrial group Alstom in 2014. GE, which had 307,000 employees as of December 2013, has a market cap of $245 billion.

American Dominance

While a flock of European business schools like EMLYON, which counts Schneider Electric CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire along its alumni, boast chief executive graduates outside of the FT500, within the index it is US institutions that have provided the largest amount of business leaders.

Harvard, for example, has an impressive 28 chief executives from its MBA alumni group. Stanford GSB in California has nine. This includes Carlos Brito, CEO of Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brewing giant, and John Donahoe, chief executive of online marketplace eBay.

Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Wharton School and the Kellogg School of Management all have six FT500 CEOs each, including Booth’s Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, drugs giant Johnson & Johnson chief Alex Gorsky of Wharton, and Kellogg alumnus Bill McDermott, who heads SAP, the German software company.

Elsewhere in the US, California’s Berkeley: Haas has two CEOs in the FT500 – Joseph Jimenez of Swiss drugs giant Novartis, and Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayen – and Vanderbilt University: Owen counts David Farr, CEO of Emerson Electric, and oil services group Baker Hughes’ chief executive Martin Craighead as alumni.

However, outside of America both Canada’s Rotman School of Management and India’s Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad have two chief executives leading companies in the FT500.

For Europe, Cranfield School of Management in the UK graduated Antony Jenkins, CEO of Barclays, the bank, and London Business School educated David Pyott, CEO of healthcare group Allergan.

Student Reviews

Bayes Business School




On Campus

Best Journalism school in Europe

When I first stepped onto the campus of City, University of London, I knew I was in for a ride - and not just on the Tube! With its vibrant energy and an impressive repertoire of programs, City U became my home away from home. The Journalism program was kind of a big deal. Rumour was that we were the best in Europe! The lecturers were not just experts in their field; they’re practically journalistic royalty. They were invested, passionate, and had a knack for turning the most flat press release into a riveting news story. With their guidance, I’ve learned to navigate the chaotic world of media like a pro. The campus was a melting pot of every culture, being that we had such a diverse international crowd. Being in the heart of London, I had the world at my fingertips - there was always a new corner to explore, a hidden gem of a cafe to discover, or a street performer! City, University of London wasn't just a university; it was a chapter in my life story that I’ll never forget.




On Campus

Learning environment

The teacher-learner ration is manageable, giving each learner a chance to gain personal attention. It is also easier following up on the progress of a student, as the numbers per class is not large. the conducive environment for learning includes clean classes, standard desks, world class instructional facilities and the opportunity to engage lecturers even after their sessions. The team spirit at City is above board, with learners getting chance to learn both from instructors and colleagues. This is the university of choice; the place to be.




On Campus


I liked that each class had a manageable number of learners, making the professor-learner ratio favor knowledge acquisition. I also liked that study schedules were manageable, and not overwhelming. The focus on talents and gifts even within the learning environment makes it possible for learners to achieve the best of their potential, and this has worked to the advantage of those that have schooled at City, University of London




On Campus


The diversity at City University facilitates interactions and is a direction toward the unity of the world. The classes are well built to match the number and needs of all students regardless of the elements of diversity that set people apart. The use of technology in delivery makes learning even more interesting and achievable. At City University there is no distinction pegged on the issues that make people unique.




On Campus


The team of lecturers at the Uiversity are well experienced. Their level of insight and the methodologies of delivery works for the interes of the leaeners. My learning experience was largely boosted by the level of knowledge of the professors at the institution, and their passion to transfer the same to learners. I appreciate every class I attended because of the level of insight I was able to gather




On Campus

The best university I’ve been to

The campus and the people I've met have made it a wonderful experience. I was reared in a small town with a graduating class of only 88 individuals, so moving to City University was a huge adjustment for me. My dorm has more residents than my whole high school combined! I enjoy the atmosphere here, and everyone is so friendly. Outstanding academic options and a stunning campus. Really great from beginning to end. The educators genuinely love what they do, and the students are ready to learn. On or around college, there is always something to do with friends, and the social scene is particularly warm.




On Campus

Bayes Business School

As a student at City university attending Bayes Business School I would totally recommend choosing this university as the experience is exceptional with great social networking opportunities . Professors are significantly helpful, delivering with excellence and professionalism. Everyone is happy to help and make you feel welcomed in such an esteem university as City, offering exceptional development and guidance through out the course.




On Campus

Economics and Politics

Incredibly amazing university, the way they polish students and help them boost their morale and think intellectually is worthwhile. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, and the study of people and places.




On Campus

Clinical biology

I really like it it’s perfect for me with not too many people and not too few either. All the modules are amazing. I love the toy bar. I love all the societies that I’ma part of. Especially the colour Bollywood society