The 30 most successful Harvard Business School graduates of all time
- Harvard Business School churns out successful people year after year.
- It’s been leading the conversation in business education since it started the world’s first master’s in business program in 1908.
- Executives like Michael Bloomberg and US politicians like Mitt Romney and George W. Bush are just a few of the notable graduates.
If you want to be an executive, billionaire, or US president, it’s a good idea to go to Harvard Business School.
Harvard offered the world’s first master’s in business administration program in 1908, and the Harvard MBA has since been a hallmark of the elite, with George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Michael Bloomberg all earning the degree.
We sifted through HBS’s sterling history to find the most powerful, prominent, and financially successful grads who came out of Cambridge.
Here are the most successful people to graduate from Harvard Business School, in order of graduation year.
Walter Haas Jr., class of 1939
Haas succeeded his father as the CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, growing it from a regional California brand to one of the world’s biggest apparel companies.
Philip Caldwell, class of 1942
Caldwell took over as the first non-Ford family member to run Ford Motor Company, where he led one of the biggest turnarounds in American business history.
Stephen R. Covey, class of 1957
Covey became tremendously influential after publishing his bestselling book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
Michael Bloomberg, class of 1966
After receiving his MBA, Bloomberg went on to found financial data company Bloomberg LP in 1981 before serving three terms as the mayor of New York City. An active philanthropist, Bloomberg has donated over $6 billion to a range of causes.
Henry Paulson, class of 1970
Paulson spent 32 years at Goldman Sachs, working his way up to CEO. From 2006 to 2009 he served as the US Treasury Secretary, up until the financial crisis. Now he’s chairman of the Paulson Institute, which promotes sustainable economic growth and a clean environment.
Ray Dalio, class of 1973
Dalio is the highly influential founder and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund with $150 billion in total assets under management. He’s worth an estimated $19.4 billion.
Mitt Romney, class of 1974
After getting his MBA, Romney had a long career with Bain Consulting. He was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and has since been a presidential candidate.
George W. Bush, class of 1975
Former president George W. Bush graduated from HBS before working in the oil business, owning the Texas Rangers, becoming governor of Texas, and then serving two terms as commander-in-chief.
Jim Koch, class of 1978
Koch left management consulting to found Boston Beer Company, which makes Samuel Adams. A leader in the craft beer movement, he’s now worth $1.4 billion.
Ann S. Moore, class of 1978
After getting her MBA, Moore went on to the top of the publishing industry, becoming the first female CEO of Time, Inc. in 2002. She is now running The Curator Gallery, a fine art gallery in New York City.
Meg Whitman, class of 1979
Whitman served as chairman, president, and CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 2011 to 2015, leading HP through a major transformation, by splitting the company into enterprise and hardware. She’s now the CEO of Quibi, a short-form video platform, and is worth an estimated $3.8 billion.
Chase Carey, class of 1981
After finishing his MBA, Carey started a successful media career. He helped launch Fox News and FOXSports served as CEO of DirecTV. He is now the executive chairman and CEO of the Formula One Group.
Jamie Dimon, class of 1982
Dimon is the chairman, president, and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest of the big four American banks. In 2015, he became one of the first banking executives to become a billionaire.
Jeffrey Immelt, class of 1982
Raymond McGuire, class of 1984
McGuire is the head of global banking at Citigroup, Inc. After graduating in 1984, McGuire spent time as managing director of mergers and acquisitions at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. He also serves on several philanthropy boards and is an active political donor.
Ana Patricia Botín (graduation year unknown; 1980s)
Ana Patricia Botín got her MBA in the ’80s and is one of the most powerful banking executives in the world. She recently stepped up as executive chairwoman of Santander Group of Spain when her father died, after having led the bank’s UK branch.
Sheryl WuDunn, class of 1986
After getting her MBA, WuDunn went on to become a private wealth advisor at Goldman Sachs and a business executive and journalist for the New York Times. She has co-authored four best-selling books, including “Half the Sky,” and won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in China with her husband Nicholas Kristof.
Michael Lynton, class of 1987
Lynton served as CEO of Sony Entertainment and the chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures, which has produced a number of Oscar-nominated films. Since 2017, he’s been the chairman of Snap, which operates popular social media app Snapchat.
Abigail Johnson, class of 1988
Abigail Johnson got her MBA in 1988, which is also when she joined Fidelity Worldwide Investment. Today she serves as the chair of Fidelity; she ranks among the richest women in the world, with an estimated net worth of $15.5 billion.
Len Blavatnik, class of 1989
Blavatnik was the richest man in Great Britain, with a current net worth of $17.4 billion. His privately held industrial group, Access Industries, has investments in real estate, natural resources, and media.
In 2013, he donated $50 million to his alma mater, and five years later the Blavatnik Family Foundation donated $200 million to Harvard Medical School, the largest donation in HMS’s history. The foundation donated $10 million more to HBS in April 2019 for a fellowship program.
Bill Ackman, class of 1992
Bill Ackman is the founder of the $8.2 billion hedge fund Pershing Square Capital and one of the most influential activist investors on Wall Street.
Mark Pincus, class of 1993
Pincus is the cofounder of social media gaming company Zynga. He returned as the company’s CEO in 2015 for just one year, and today he’s worth around $1.3 billion.
Darren Huston, class of 1994
Huston became president and CEO of popular travel booking service Priceline in early 2014, after spending almost three years as CEO of Microsoft Japan. Huston was also the CEO of Booking.com, and has served as senior vice president of branded products and new ventures at Starbucks.
Sheryl Sandberg, class of 1995
Jason Kilar, class of 1997
Kilar built his career by spending 10 years as an executive at Amazon. He stepped down as CEO of Hulu to head streaming service Vessel, which raised $57.5 of Series B funding.
Sal Khan, class of 2003
Khan is the founder of the popular online learning site Khan Academy, which has received funding from the Gates Foundation and Google.
Ray Hatoyama, class of 2008
Rehito “Ray” Hatoyama joined the team at Sanrio Company (owner of the wildly popular Hello Kitty brand) when he graduated from HBS. As managing director and COO, he’s seen the market cap rise from $500 million to $3.5 billion in seven years, from 2008 to 2015.
Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, class of 2009
Hyman and Fleiss were classmates at HBS and went on to cofound Rent the Runway. The e-commerce fashion company is valued at $1 billion as of March 2019, after their latest fundraising round, which brought $125 million from Franklin Templeton Investments and Bain Capital Ventures.
Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, class of 2010
Barna and Beauchamp also met at HBS, and went on to cofound Birchbox together. The fast-growing beauty e-commerce service was valued at $485 million in 2015, but that number has since dropped after the company struggled with growth. In October 2018, Walgreens partnered up with Birchbox to sell Birchbox beauty lines in its stores.
Matt Salzberg, class of 2010
Salzburg is the founder and CEO of Blue Apron, the New York-based meal planning and delivery service that was valued at $2 billion. That valuation has gone down steeply since the company went public in 2017, amid plummeting subscription sales. As of December 2018, it was valued at $128 million.