Freddy Setiawan’s Journey

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CEOs Without College Degrees

Posted by freddysetiawan on June 9, 2009

The thousands of wait-listed would-be MBAs who may not get the chance to go to their dream B-school might want to draw inspiration from the following group of CEOs. Not only did they not get graduate degrees, they didn’t get undergraduate degrees — and some never even attended college.

Of course, not having a degree didn’t stop them from being a big name on campus. You’ll find Alfred Taubman’s name at Brown, Harvard, the University of Michigan, and Lawrence Technological University; at least one building on each campus bears his name, although the retail magnate and philanthropist never finished college. Read on to learn who else made it into corporate top spots without the benefit of a bachelor’s degree.

1. Dennis Albaugh

Chairman, Albaugh
Type of Business: Pesticides
Education: Associate’s degree from Des Moines Area Community College
Fun fact: He has a collection of more than 100 classic Chevrolets

2. Paul Allen

Founder and chairman, Vulcan
Type of Business: Media, telecommunications
Education: Dropped out of Washington State College after two years
Fun fact: He persuaded Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard. They later founded Microsoft (MSFT) together.

3. Richard Branson

CEO, Virgin Group
Type of Business: Travel, radio, TV, music, venture capital
Education: No college degree
Fun fact: He became an entrepreneur at age 16 with the creation of Student magazine.

4. Maverick Carter

CEO, LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding
Type of Business: Marketing
Education: 3.5 years of college at Western Michigan University and University of Akron combined
Quote: “Don’t be afraid if you see an opportunity to go and give it shot. You can finish school later; it’s always there.”

5. John Paul DeJoria

CEO, John Paul Mitchell Systems
Type of Business: Hair-care products
Education: No college
Fun fact: He started out selling greeting cards at age 9.

6. Michael Dell

Founder, chairman, and CEO Dell (DELL)
Type of Business: Computers
Education: Attended University of Texas, Austin; did not finish.
Quote: “When I started our company, it was very much an idea outside of the conventional wisdom, and if there were people telling me that it wasn’t going to work, I wasn’t really listening to them.”

7. Felix Dennis

Founder and chairman, Alpha Media Group, formerly Dennis Publishing
Type of Business: Publishing (Maxim, The Week)
Education: No college degree
Fun fact: He wrote a biography and published a magazine about Bruce Lee; sales surged when the martial arts star died suddenly in 1973.

8. Barry Diller

Chairman and CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI)
Type of Business: Media
Education: Dropped out of UCLA after three weeks
Fun fact: He started his career working in the mail room of the William Morris Agency.

9. Bill Gates

Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Chairman, Microsoft (MSFT)
Type of Business: Philanthropy. Software.
Education: Dropped out of Harvard
Fun fact: As a schoolboy, he created a program that allowed people to play tic-tac-toe on the computer.

10. Mukesh “Micky” Jagtiani

Chairman, Landmark International (Dubai)
Type of Business: Retailing
Education: No college degree
Fun fact: The billionaire mall developer flunked out of a London accounting school as a teenager and worked as a taxi driver before becoming an entrepreneur.

11. Dean Kamen

Founder and chairman, Segway
Type of Business: Motor vehicles
Education: Dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Fun fact: Kamen founded FIRST, a robotics competition for high school students.

12. David Oreck

Founder, Oreck
Type of Business: Vacuum cleaners
Education: No college. At 17, enlisted in the army, and flew B-29 bombers during World War II
Quote: “Things are never as bad as they seem to the pessimist and never as good as they seem to the optimist.”

13. Amancio Ortega Gaona

President, Inditex Group
Type of Business: Fashion retailing (Zara, Kiddy Class, others). (A Coruna, Spain)
Education: No college
Fun fact: Often cited as the richest man in Spain, he reportedly has never given any media interviews

14. Phillip Ruffin

Owner, Treasure Island
Type of Business: Casinos
Education: Attended Washburn University for three years and Wichita State University but never got his degree.
Quote: “You get the most experience from the business of life.”

15. Alfred Taubman

Founder, Taubman Centers (TCO). Philanthropist
Type of Business: Shopping malls
Education: Attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor for three years but left to start a family and his career
Quote: “Become an expert in one fundamental area of your market or business. No one starts out as a generalist.”

16. Ty Warner

Founder, Ty, Inc.
Type of Business: Toys (stuffed animals)
Education: Dropped out of college to pursue a career in acting. Later founded Ty Inc.
Fun fact: The plush animals his company manufactured retailed for only $5 in the 1990s, but Beanie Baby-mania drove prices up to $30 or more for the hard-to-get characters.

BussinessWeek

3 Responses to “CEOs Without College Degrees”

  1. na na said

    like this!

  2. […] CEOs Without College Degrees « Freddy Setiawan's Journey […]

  3. kai said

    masalahnya.. kuliah sekarang ini adalah tentang “gelar, titel, sarjana”..
    padahal inti dari belajar itu adalah mendapatkan ilmu..
    kalo ilmu dah didapet en dipahami, en dah siap praktek di dunia nyata.. why not?

    “Don’t be afraid if you see an opportunity to go and give it shot. You can finish school later; it’s always there.”

    I like this..

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