7 MBA Business Leaders Who Changed the Game

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These seven influential leaders in the business world have put their MBAs to great use. Some are CEOs, some are business founders and all are innovators who have transformed the business landscape through innovation, philanthropy and more. Check out just a few MBA grads who have made waves in global business below.

1. Mary Barra, Chairman, and CEO of General Motors

MBA from: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Mary Barra is the CEO of one of only two global businesses with no gender pay gap in 2018. As GM chairman and CEO, Barra’s vision is to focus on continuing high-quality car, truck and crossover manufacturing while also innovating through advanced technologies like autonomous driving and automobile connectivity. Barry also serves on the board of directors for the Walt Disney Company, the Stanford University Board of Trustees and the Detroit Economic Club.

Barra took on the CEO position in 2014 and is the first female CEO of a global automaker. She previously attended General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) for electrical engineering, which gave her a foot in the door at the automaker — GM even paid for her MBA through a GM fellowship.

2. Michael Bloomberg, Co-Founder of Bloomberg LP

MBA from: Harvard Business School

Don’t be surprised if MBA grad Michael Bloomberg announces a 2020 presidential run. The co-founder of financial information and media company Bloomberg LP and the former New York City mayor is considering it. Bloomberg started his career in investment banking before forming Innovative Market Systems, designed to help traders analyze stock market data. In addition to being a media magnate, Bloomberg has heavily invested his earnings into philanthropic causes, including those dedicated to climate change and gun control.

3. Gail Boudreaux, President, and CEO of Anthem

MBA from: Columbia University

Gail Boudreaux turned her business acumen into a career in healthcare, now having more than 30 years in the industry. Boudreaux was the previous CEO of UnitedHealthcare and is the current CEO of Anthem, the country’s second-largest health insurer. Anthem is set to launch a Pharmacy Benefits manager in 2020, and the company’s Anthem Foundation Awards has pledged more than $53 million in grants for projects addressing critical health issues.

4. Joseph Gorder, Chairman, CEO, and President of Valero Energy Corporation

MBA from: Our Lady of the Lake University

Joseph Gorder is a globetrotting businessman, having worked with the petroleum refiner and ethanol producer Valero Energy Corporation for more than 26 years, including as president of Valero Europe from the company’s London office. Prior to that role, Gorder also served as vice president-marketing and supply, and senior vice president of corporate development and strategic planning, proving that what you learn in an MBA program can have far-reaching effects on the business roles you take on. In recent years, Valero has rolled out standardized engineering practices, which have helped improve project certainty for the company.

5. Phil Knight, Founder of Nike

MBA from: Stanford Graduate School of Business

If you recognize the “swoosh” symbol on shoes and apparel, you know the work of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike and a former college track athlete himself. Nike is the world’s biggest athletic shoes and sports apparel company, and it also owns brands Jordan, Converse, and Cole Haan. After 52 years with the company, this retired MBA grad continues to support the schools that got him to where he is today. He has donated more than $500 million to his MBA alma mater Stanford and nearly $800 million to the University of Oregon, where he met his Nike co-creator and former track coach Bill Bowerman.

6. Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart

MBA from: University of Tulsa

He may be CEO today, but Doug McMillon is a true testament to rising up the ranks of a company. As a teenager, he worked as an hourly associate at Walmart, the company with the world’s largest private workforce. While he was studying for his MBA, he worked at Walmart as an assistant manager, then moved into merchandising. He went on to serve in leadership roles in all of Walmart’s business segments. Now, he’s a global business leader, serving on the advisory board for the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing, China.

7. Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi

MBA from: Harvard Business School

Meg Whitman is an MBA grad who has made remarkable strides in the world of technology. Whitman has held CEO positions for tech companies eBay, HP, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, being the only woman to serve as CEO for more than one Fortune 500 company. Whitman is currently CEO of Quibi, a new streaming service. Quibi recently announced a new exclusive docu-series executive produced by NBA star Stephen Curry.

Will You Be the Next Business Innovator?

If you want to be a business leader just like those featured in this article, getting your MBA degree can help get you there. You also have the potential to earn more money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, the median annual wage for full-time workers with a master’s degree was $12,000 higher than those who had a bachelor’s degree.



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