Fortunately, we live in a world where anybody can dream big irrespective of their social background or stature. There are countless examples today of individuals who, despite their humble backgrounds, managed to become CEOs of large corporate firms by sheer determination. But what role can an MBA degree play in becoming a CEO in future? Let us find out.


How to Become a CEO?

Hard work alone can’t help you bag the top post in a company. You need a certain level of focus and planning regarding your approach right from the beginning. 

  • Academic Qualification

A good qualification can always create a favourable first impression of the jobseeker in the eyes of the recruiter. Therefore, you should begin with acquiring a robust academic qualification to make your resume stand apart. CEOs of most companies have academic qualifications that highlight their subject specialization.

At the undergraduate level, it is all about choosing the stream that interests and excites you the most. Apart from the usual favourites like engineering, you can choose from a wide range of subjects like accountancy, finance, economics, applied sciences etc., as your undergraduate course. Later, you should pursue an MBA course from a good business school to further highlight your resume.


  • Build a Career

Once you enter the job market, try to build a career around projects that add value to your professional resume. Whether it is marketing, operations, or finance, you need to show that you can substantially impact the company through your education and skills. 

A CEO can be from the same company or a different company, depending upon the firm’s management and succession philosophy. While companies like ITC, Apple, or Asian Paints generally induct CEOs from the existing company veterans, some other large companies like Tata Motors and Merril Lynch go for CEOs who are outsiders to the respective firms. 

Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether you stay in the same company or try various roles in different firms as long as you get quality exposure that adds value to your professional learning curve.


  • Develop a Personality

A CEO is often the face of their company. Therefore, it is important to have an impressionable personality that can be inspiring to the subordinates. Your personality should have the traits of a visionary leader who knows what is good for the company and the future course of action. You should radiate confidence, charisma and charm effortlessly. All this comes from your education and experience. While you can only gain experience once you start working, an MBA program helps you build the personality needed to lead a business into success. 


Why MBA for CEO?

A management degree like MBA can go a long way in moulding your career as a CEO. 

  • Developing Domain Expertise

You can develop in-depth knowledge in a particular domain like finance, human resource, or marketing while pursuing your MBA course, which can help you in making informed choices when entrusted with greater responsibilities inside your firm.

  • Leadership Skills

A good MBA programme can help you hone your leadership skills. You will undergo various team-building exercises, group discussions and various personality development sessions during your program. All these activities can help you in becoming a better manager in future.

  • Industry Exposure

Top US business schools regularly conduct interactive sessions and lectures between their students and the industry veterans. This can give you tremendous exposure to the real-life work environment and an insight into the thought process of business leaders.

  • Building Networks

Campuses in top US B-schools are filled with students of different nationalities and backgrounds. The diversity allows students of different nations to come together and forge a bond that lasts ages. The network built during your stay on the campus can be useful in the later stages of your career as well.


Top MBA Programs for CEO

The USA B-schools offer one of the best business learning environments because of their proximity to many large global corporates. Unsurprisingly, a substantial number of many US B-schools alumni regularly appear in the list of CEOs of some of the top global multinational firms. 

Following is the list of the top 10 US B-schools with the most number of CEOs in Fortune 500 firms.

Sr. No.Business SchoolUniversityNumber of CEOs in Fortune 500 Companies
1Harvard Business SchoolHarvard University40
2Wharton SchoolUniversity of Pennsylvania13
3Stanford Graduate School of BusinessStanford University10
4Kellogg School of BusinessNorthwestern University6
5Kelley School of BusinessIndiana University6
6Ross School of Business, Ann ArborUniversity of Michigan5
7Columbia Business SchoolColumbia University4
8UVA Dardar School of BusinessUniversity of Virginia4
9Rutgers Business SchoolRutgers University3
10Tuck School of BusinessDartmouth College3

[ Source: Businessresearchguide ]

[READ: Getting into Top Tier B-School in USA – Cost, Scholarships, and More]


Do You Need MBA to Become a CEO?

While an MBA degree might not be a necessary qualification, it certainly can fast-track your journey. People like Elon Musk of Tesla, or Mark Zuckerberg of Meta (Facebook), have successfully founded and managed large companies without having an MBA degree. However, these are exceptional cases. Besides, non-MBA CEOs of some of the well-renowned firms are often founders. 

If you are not planning to start a company of your own soon, an MBA degree can be your best bet to climb the corporate ladder fast. A number of the well-known companies in the global corporate landscape are headed by MBA graduates.

Sr. No.Name of CEOCompany NameMBA Alma Mater
1Sundar PichaiAlphabet Inc. (Google)Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania
2Satya NadellaMicrosoftChicago Booth School of Business
3Tim CookApple Inc.Fuqua School of Business
4.Andrew R. JassyAmazonHarvard Business School
4Shantanu NarayenAdobe Inc.Haas School of Business
5Nikesh AroraPalo Alto NetworksNortheastern University
6Anand MahindraMahindra GroupHarvard Business School
7Darius AdamczykHoneywell InternationalHarward Business School
8Mary BarraGeneral ElectricStanford University
9Alex GorskyJohnson & JohnsonWharton School of University of Pennsylvania
10Doug McMillonWalmart IncUniversity of Tulsa

[Source: IndiaToday, Poets and Quants  ]

It would be grossly unfair to state that people without an MBA degree can’t bag the top job. However, the data suggest that MBAs do have the best shot to the coveted post. 

Remember that we have strictly limited our discussion to bagging the position of CEO in this blog. You will get a more remarkable MBA presence in corporate board rooms across the globe if you include other top management posts like General Manager, Vice Presidents, etc., in your search.