Successful Business People Who Don’t Have an MBA

Young woman thinking about business school

Do you need an MBA to be successful in business? Not according to these business leaders!
Image: Shutterstock

According to the most recent data published by the U.S. Department of Education, about a quarter of all Master’s degrees earned in the United States are related to business. So is an MBA a requirement for a lucrative career in business?

To some people, an MBA can provide limitless opportunities – you’ll be prepared to work in a variety of environments in business, government, nonprofit, technology industries, and more. Studying in an MBA program can be a way for individuals to gain both the critical thinking and the business skills that make it easier to obtain a successful job.

However, an MBA is hardly the only path to professional success; many leaders of top companies around the world chose not to continue their education after their undergraduate careers. Despite common belief, a number of non-MBA professionals go on to have successful careers in a variety of industries, including business, tech, law, and politics.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com

After graduating from Princeton University with an electrical engineering degree, Albuquerque native Jeff Bezos gained professional experience at Wall Street, Bankers Trust, and D.E. Shaw & Co. He later founded Amazon.com in 1994 (in his garage) after making a cross-country road trip from New York to Seattle. Amazon.com became the largest retailer on the Internet, and, as of November 2015, Bezos’s personal wealth was estimated to be $55 billion, ranking him 15th on the Forbes list of billionaires.

Dan Loeb, hedge fund manager and founder of Third Point LLC

Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb attended the University of California at Berkeley for two years and later graduated from Columbia University with an economics degree. Before approaching the end of his senior year at Columbia, he had made $120,000 in stock market. Today, he’s the founder and chief executive of Third Point LLC, a New York-based hedge fund with a portfolio worth $14 billion.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Majoring in communication, Brooklyn native Howard Schultz attended Northern Michigan University on a football scholarship. After becoming the director of sales for Hammarplast (a drip coffee manufacturer), he discovered a small Seattle chain known as Starbucks today. As of May 2015, Starbucks employs over 190,000 employees worldwide and has made $17 billion in sales.

Andrea Jung, non-profit leader and former CEO of Avon

Andrea Jung is a Canadian-American executive, prominent women’s rights supporter, and non-profit leader. She studied English literature at Princeton University and joined an executive training program for Bloomingdale’s in New York after graduating. In addition to being the former CEO and Chairwoman of Avon, she was also President and CEO of Grameen America, a nonprofit microfinance organization established by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

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