The 20 Most Notable Harvard Alumni in the Business World

Meg Whitman

If you want your child to support you in your old age, start dropping hints about Harvard now. Since 1908, Harvard has been pumping out legions of the country’s future business leaders, and it can now count some of the richest men and women in the world among the ranks of its former students. Here, we take a look at a rundown of the most influential Harvard alumni of all time.

Bill Gates

1. Bill Gates

Who else but Bill Gates could top our list? As the co-founder, chairman, president, and CEO of the pioneering computer company, Microsoft, Gates’ place in the annals of tech history is well and truly cemented… as is his wealth, which legend and Celebrity Net Worth has it sitting at around $107 billion, making him the 2nd richest person in the world. Not that he keeps it all for himself, of course… along with his wife Melinda, Gates chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charitable foundation in the world. Its many good deeds include working to improve global health and acting in partnership with Rotary International to eradicate polio.

Stanley Marcus

2. Stanley Marcus

Next up we have Stanley Marcus, one of Harvard’s finest example of what can be achieved with a drop of luck and a ton of ambition. As CEO of the Dallas based luxury retail department store, Neiman Marcus, Marcus is credited with developing retail merchandising and marketing into the giant it is today. Outside of his business interests, Marcus was a keen writer, tolling for 15 years over his weekly column for The Dallas Morning News, and releasing numerous retail-themed publications such as Minding the Store: A Memoir (1974), Quest for the Best (1979), and His & Hers: The Fantasy World of the Neiman Marcus Catalogue (1982).

Sumner Redstone

3. Sumner Redstone

Media magnate Sumner Redstone is one of Harvard’s proudest achievements. Born in 1923, the now 96-year-old Redstone grew to prominence as the majority owner and chairman of the mass media holding company, National Amusements. Over the years, the company has invested in (and in some cases, acquired) such big-name brands as Viacom, Columbia Pictures, CBS, Twentieth Century Fox, Orion Pictures, and Paramount Pictures. In 2016, a court-ordered examination by a geriatric psychiatrist forced Redstone to stand down from active duty at both Viacom and CBS, but he continues his association with the former through his role as chairman emeritus.

James McNerney

4. James McNerney

Since graduating from Harvard, James McNerney has built a hugely successful career in business, taking in roles at such industry leaders as Procter & Gamble (1975-1978), McKinsey & Co., Inc. (1978-1982), General Electric (1982-2000), and 3M (2000-2005). Since 2005, he’s served as the CEO of Boeing, a global giant in the realm of aerospace manufacturing and defense corporation, generating more revenue, orders, and deliveries than any of its global competitors. McNerney’s achievements haven’t gone unrecognized: in addition to being named as one of BusinessWeek’s best managers in 2003, he’s also won the title of Chief Executive Officer of the Year by Industry Week.

Lloyd Blankfein

5. Lloyd Blankfein

Fifth on our list is Lloyd Blankfein, Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” 2019 and former CEO and chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., one of the largest financial, banking and securities firms in the world. Blankfein assumed the leadership role in May 2006, having previously enjoyed numerous positions of note at the company, including President and Chief Operating Officer (2004-2006), and Vice-Chairman (2002-2004). Blankfein has continued his association with his old alma mater since graduating and currently sits on the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School and the Harvard University Committee on University Resources.

Mark Zuckerberg

6. Mark Zuckerberg

Like or loathe Facebook, you can’t deny Harvard graduate Mark Zuckerberg has what it takes to make it in business. Since launching the social media network from his dorm room back in 2004, Zuckerberg has gone on to become one of the most influential and powerful players in the tech world… and one of its richest. With a personal fortune estimated by Forbes to be $69.8 billion, Zuckerman ranks as the 8th wealthiest person in the world.

Alex Behring

7. Alex Behring

No one could accuse Alex Behring of a poor worth ethic. Since graduating from Harvard Business School in 1995, he’s co-founded the technology company, Modus OSI Technologies, been appointed a partner in GP Investments (the largest private-equity firm in Latin America), headed up the private sector railroad company América Latina Logística, co-founded the global investment company 3G Capital, been appointed chair of the Canadian holding company, Restaurant Brands International, and currently serves as chair of Kraft Heinz and as a director of Anheuser-Busch-InBev.

Phillip Caldwell

8. Phillip Caldwell

After earning his MBA in 1942, Phillip Caldwell set his sights on the motor industry, or more specifically, Ford Motor Company. After becoming the first person without a direct link to the Ford family to head up the company, he overhauled Ford from the top-down, sparking one of the biggest turnarounds in fortunes the business world has ever seen. Caldwell retired from Ford in 1985; 5 years later, his contributions to the industry were recognized with a place in the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Steven Covey

9. Steven Covey

After a slipped capital femoral epiphysis in junior high school forced the formerly athletic Covey to abandon the playing field in favor of the classroom, he embraced academia for all his worth, graduating high school several years early and achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Utah, an MBA from Harvard Business School at Harvard University, and a Doctor of Religious Education (DRE) from Brigham Young University (as a little trivia, he subsequently went on to claim 10 honorary doctorates to add to the list). After graduating, Cover achieved huge success as an author (his first publication, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has sold more than 25 million copies globally since its release in 1989), a businessman (he launched professional services firm Stephen R. Covey and Associates in 1987, along with a career development webinar series in 2009), and as an in-demand public speaker.

Kraft

10. Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft began his career with the Rand-Whitney Group, a packaging company owned by the father of his wife, Myra Hiatt. In 1968, Kraft acquired control of the business via a leveraged buyout, and it’s fair to say he hasn’t looked back since. As the chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group (a diversified holding company that has a finger in pretty much every type of pie you can imagine), and owner of multiple sports teams (including the National Football League’s New England Patriots, Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, and Boston Uprising), he’s today worth a mammoth $6.6 billion.

Michael Bloomberg

11. Michael Bloomberg

Since nabbing his MBA in 1966, Michael Bloomberg has carved out an extraordinary career in business, literature, politics, and philanthropy. As a businessman, he’s seen success as the founder, CEO, and owner of Bloomberg L.P, one of the largest financial services, software and mass media companies in the world. As a politician, he served three consecutive terms as the 108th Mayor of New York City. As an author, he’s published the autobiography Bloomberg by Bloomberg (although he did admittedly get a helping hand from Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler). As a philanthropist, he’s contributed to numerous worthy endeavors, with one of his most significant donations being a $6-million grant to the Environmental Defense Fund. The end result of his endeavors? A net worth estimated by Forbes to be $55.2 billion.

George Kaiser

12. George Kaiser

George Kaiser graduated from Harvard in 1966. Shortly after, he took control of his family firm, the Kaiser-Francis Oil Company. Under his leadership, the company went from being an insignificant bystander to one of the largest nonpublic energy exploration companies in the U.S. Other notable achievements include chairing the BOK Financial Corporation and being ranked by BusinessWeek as one of the top 50 American philanthropists, an achievement largely attributable to his activities in promoting early childhood education.

Henry Paulson

13. Henry Paulson

Since graduating from Harvard, Henry Paulson has obtained numerous positions of note, including as a partner at Goldman Sachs, and as the managing partner, co-head of Investment Banking, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago office of the Investment Banking group for Midwest. In 2006, he was confirmed as John Snow’s successor to the role of US Secretary of the Treasury, a position he held until 2009. Paulson is currently believed to be worth an estimated $700 million.

Stephen Schwarzman

14. Stephen Schwarzman

Since Stephen Schwarzman earned his degree in 1972, he’s grown into one of the country’s most accomplished business leaders. After a long career at Lehman’s, Schwarzman left the company in 1985 to form The Blackstone Group, a multinational private equity and financial services corporation. When Blackstone went public in 2007, he received $684 million for his stake…. something that no doubt helped him along the way to the $17 billion he’s believed to be worth today.

Ray Dalio

15. Ray Dalio

At the age of 12, Ray Dalio used his pocket money to buy some shares in Northeast airlines, tripling his initial investment after the company later merged with Northwest Airlines. Fast forward to 2019, and his talent for investment shows no signs of waning: as founder and former CEO of Bridgewater Associates, Dalio can claim to own one of the world’s largest hedge funds. In addition to his business activities, Dalio is a celebrated philanthropist, and along with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, has signed up to Given Pledge, a public declaration of intent to contribute half his fortune to charitable causes during his lifetime.

Jim Koch

16. Jim Koch

Since graduating from Harvard in 1978, Jim Koch has enjoyed an illustrious (and diverse) career that’s included time as a consultant with The Boston Consulting Group and as an instructor with Outward Bound. His most notable achievement has been as the co-founder of the Boston Beer Company, producers of the famous Samuel Adams Beer. On the home front, Koch has been married twice (he’s currently married to fellow entrepreneur Cynthia Fisher) and has four children.

Anne Moore

17. Anne Moore

Since earning her MBA from Harvard in 1978, Anne Moore has enjoyed a stellar career that in 2002, culminated in her becoming the first female CEO of Time, Inc. The appointment came after Moore successfully transformed the fortunes of People, a publication at which she graduated from publisher to president. Moore’s achievements have led to numerous accolades, including the Matrix Award from Women in Communications in 1994 and the Civic Leadership Award from AOL Time Warner in 2003. Between 1998 and 2003, she was also a regular fixture on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business.

Meg Whitman

18. Meg Whitman

Business executive, political activist and philanthropist Meg Whitman has the kind of resume most of us can only dream of. After graduating, she began her career with Procter & Gamble as a Brand Manager. From there, she joined Bain & Company as a consultant, steadily working her way up to the position of senior vice president. In 1995, she was appointed the president and CEO of Florists’ Transworld Delivery, and in 1998 she joined eBay as CEO. During her time at the helm, she transformed the fledgling business from a tiny office of 30 employees to an $8 billion-dollar global giant. Whitman currently serves as the CEO of the mobile video platform, Quibi.

John Paulson

19.John Paulson

Since obtaining his MBA in 1980, John Paulson has achieved recognition as the founder and CEO of New York investment management firm, Paulson and Co. Described by The New York Times as “one of the most prominent names in high finance”, Paulson is currently sitting pretty on an estimated fortune of $13.7 billion.

Chase Carey

20. Chase Carey

Since graduating from Harvard in 1981, Chase Carey has built an enviable career in broadcasting (he’s previously served as CEO of DirecTV, was instrumental in the launch of FoxNews and FoxSports, and currently serves as president of NewsCorp) and sports (since 2017, he’s headed up the Formula One Group). He’s currently believed to be worth at least $46.1 million dollars


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