Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Harvard Business School Notable Alumni | 21 Famous MBAs

Billionaires, tech entrepreneurs, and even a president are counted among Harvard Business School's notable MBA alumni

Fri May 3 2024


Given that Harvard Business School is home to the oldest MBA program—founded in 1908—it’s not surprising that the school has housed some very notable former students.

When you’re signing up for an MBA program, you’re signing up for a rich classroom experience and well-recognised qualification. But you’re also signing up to become part of a diverse and influential network, and this is no truer than at Harvard where students come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

From CEOs of the world’s biggest corporations, to leading political figures—even counting a US President among its alumni—Harvard’s MBA has an illustrious network. 

Here are 21 notable alumni from the Harvard Business School MBA:    

Harvard Business School Notable Alumni

1. Henry Paulson 


©Treasury DepartmentAll images in this article are used under this license.

MBA Class of 1970

Former US Secretary of the Treasury & CEO of Goldman Sachs

Henry, or ‘Hank’, Paulson’s career has flitted between finance and politics, from working at the Pentagon to becoming CEO of Goldman Sachs in 1998. 

In 2006, politics soon came calling, and Hank took up the post as Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush. He now runs the Paulson Institute, aimed at promoting sustainable and cleaner growth. 

2. Sheryl Sandberg 


©World Economic Forum, used under this license

MBA Class of 1995

Former Chief Operating Officer at Facebook

Facebook’s rise to success has often been credited not to Mark Zuckerberg’s technological prowess but to Sheryl Sandberg’s strategic genius. 

After graduating from Harvard, Sheryl had stints at McKinsey & Company and Google, before meeting Zuckerberg at a party in 2007. She served as the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook until August 2022, when she resigned to focus on her philanthropic endeavors. 

Alongside her work, Sheryl has also been celebrated for her contribution to corporate feminism, writing the bestselling book Lean In

3. Jim Koch


©US Department of Labor

MBA Class of 1978

Founder of Brooklyn Beer Company

If you’ve ever cracked open a Samuel Adams beer, you have Jim Koch to thank. 

It all started when Jim, from a family of brewers, made up a batch of his family recipe lager in his kitchen. This became Samuel Adams Lager, and the company steadily grew into the Boston Beer Company, one of America's best known breweries.

4. Michael Bloomberg 


©Gage Skidmore

MBA Class of 1966

Founder and CEO of Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg has become one of the most recognizable names in the US, as founder of multi-billion dollar media group Bloomberg and having spent an 11-year stint as New York mayor.

He’s particularly remembered at Harvard Business School for his philanthropy, namely the Bloomberg Center (named after Michael’s father) which was built with help from his donations to the school. 

If you were in the US in early 2020, there’s a good chance you’ll have seen a Michael Bloomberg poster. The billionaire famously spent $500 million on advertising for his campaign for the Democrat presidential nomination, before crashing out just a few weeks later. 

5. Ann Sarnoff 


©Mike Pont

MBA Class of 1978

CEO of Warner Bros

In the summer of 2019, Ann Sarnoff was named as the first female CEO of Warner Bros, considered one of the ‘Big 5’ American film studios. 

This is not Ann’s first big media job, in a career that has included being chief operating officer (COO) at the Women’s NBA, VH1, and at BBC North America. 

6. Steve Bannon


©Gage Skidmore

MBA Class of 1985

Former White House chief strategist

Nicknamed ‘the Great Manipulator’ by Time Magazine in 2017, Steve Bannon is perhaps best known as the man who got Trump into the White House; the same man who, just eight months into the job, was sacked from his role as chief strategist. 

Steve’s rollercoaster of a career has taken him from the US Navy, to Goldman Sachs, via an MBA at Harvard. 

He also co-founded alt right platform Breitbart News, and was a vice president for the illegal data hacking organization Cambridge Analytica. 

7. Elaine Chao


©US Department of Transport

MBA Class of 1979

Former US Secretary of Transportation

Elaine Chao was the first Asian American woman to hold a position in the presidential cabinet, when she was appointed as US Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush. 

She was born in Taiwan, and immigrated to the US with her parents at the age of eight. She served in several positions in Reagan and both Bush administrations, as well as becoming director of the US Peace Corps. 

In 2017, she was appointed to Trump’s cabinet as the Secretary of Transportation, where she served until 2021. 

8. Robert McNamara


©John F Kennedy Presidential Library

MBA Class of 1939

Former US Secretary of Defence

When President John F. Kennedy asked Robert McNamara to be his Secretary of Defense, Robert replied that he didn’t know anything about government.

It became a quick education for him. Robert played a key role in de-escalating the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and in general is credited for reducing the Pentagon’s willingness to deploy its nuclear arsenal. 

Later, he became president of the World Bank. 

9. Robert Kraft



MBA Class of 1965

Billionaire sports investor

Not to be confused with Kraft Foods, Robert Kraft’s Kraft Group is a diversified holdings company in everything from sports and entertainment to real estate. 

His sports portfolio includes the six-time super bowl winning New England Patriots, as well as soccer team New England Revolution. In 2017, he made a foray into eSports, buying the eSports team Boston Uprising. 

10. Mitt Romney 


©Gage Skidmore

MBA Class of 1975

Republican senator

Former Bain & Company CEO Mitt Romney will be remembered by most for his failed presidential bid in 2012 against the incumbent Barack Obama. 

As the senator for Utah, Mitt, in voting to impeach President Trump, became the first and only senator to vote to convict a president of their own party. 

11. Stephen Schwarzman


©World Economic Forum

MBA Class of 1972

Co-founder of Blackstone Group

In 1985, Stephen Schwarzman left Lehman Brothers, an investment banking company, with a fellow employee and set up the Blackstone Group. 

It made Stephen a multi-billionaire, and Blackstone is now the world’s largest alternative investment firm. 

12. Jeffrey Skilling


©US Marshals Service

MBA Class of 1979

Former CEO of Enron

Jeffrey Skilling was the man at the top, and arguably responsible for, one of the most notorious corporate scandals of the 21st century—Enron. 

Jeffrey covered up around $60 billion of debt, leading to the energy company’s collapse. Over 20,000 employees lost their life savings. He served 14 years in prison, before being released in 2019. 

13. George W. Bush


©US National Archives

MBA Class of 1975

43rd President of the USA

George W. Bush followed in his family’s footsteps into politics, first becoming the Governor of Texas before being elected as the 43rd president of the United States. 

He famously led America into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while infamously overseeing the country’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush Jr. remains the only US president to have earned an MBA. 

14. Jennifer Hyman & 15. Jennifer Fleiss


©TechCrunch ; ©Harvard Business School

MBA Class of 2009

Founders of Rent The Runway

Clothes sharing economy platform Rent The Runway was born when Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss met during their MBA in 2009.

The site allows users to rent, rather than buy, renowned designer clothing—an idea conceived by Hyman after seeing her own sister agonize over her outfit choice for a wedding.  

16. Ulf Mark Schneider


©Fresenius SE

MBA Class of 1993 

CEO of Nestle

German-born Ulf Mark Schneider is the current CEO of global fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) giant Nestle, appointed to the role in 2016. 

He was named for the role after 15 years at the top of multibillion dollar healthcare group Fresenius. 

17. Mark Pincus


©Christopher Michel

MBA Class of 1993

Co-founder and former CEO of Zynga

Internet entrepreneur Mark Pincus has been behind several internet-based companies; his fourth, Zynga, is the most renowned. 

Zynga is the game developer behind games like FarmVille and Words With Friends. The company went public in 2011 with a $1 billion initial public offering (IPO). 

18. Andy Jassy


©Wikimedia Commons

MBA Class of 1997

CEO of Amazon

Amazon’s CEO, who took over from founder Jeff Bezos in 2021, rose to prominence after founding Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2003. Andy Jassy was hired by Amazon within days of completing his Harvard MBA, the same year the firm went public.

Since Andy joined, Amazon has grown to a valuation of more than $1 trillion. Andy is also part owner of National Hockey League team Seattle Kraken.

19. Meg Whitman


©US Department of State

MBA Class of 1979

US Ambassador to Kenya and former CEO of eBay

Meg Whitman acted as CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008, where she famously increased the company's earnings from $5.7 million to $8 billion in sales.

She ran for governor of California in 2010 as a member of the Republican party. However, she lost to Democratic former governor Jerry Brown. 

In December 2021, Whitman was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as the United States Ambassador to Kenya.

20. Sal Khan


©Sal Khan/LinkedIn

MBA Class of 2003

Founder of Khan Academy 

Inspired by the success of tutoring his cousin in math using Yahoo Doodle notepad, Sal Khan was inspired to create YouTube channel, Khan Academy, which has since amassed 8 million subscribers and over 2 billion views. 

In March 2023, the company released Khanmigo—an AI-powered teaching assistant.

21. Jamie Dimon


©Jamie Dimon/LinkedIn

MBA Class of 1982

CEO of JPMorgan Chase 

Jamie Dimon began his career as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). 

In 2000, he was appointed the CEO of Bank One, until its merger with JPMorgan Chase in 2004. He then became the COO of JPMorgan Chase, assuming the role of CEO two years later.

Those are undoubtedly some big boots to fill if you're looking to apply to the Harvard Business School. To make sure you're prepared, here is a breakdown of the average GMAT scores for the world's top MBA programs.