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Career Planning

Where did the world's top CEOs go to university?


With the QS World University Rankings released today, current, former and would-be students have been scouring the list to see if their university has made the cut.

But other than the satisfying understanding that your university is internationally-renowned, would knowing that it counts a high number of hugely successful businessmen among its alumni not also have an appeal? Thought so.

A global league table recently published by the UK’s Times Higher Education has ranked universities by the number of graduates who are now chief executive officers of the world’s biggest companies, the total number of degrees awarded to CEOs and the total revenue of their companies.

Despite coming second to MIT in the QS rankings, Harvard tops THE’s Alma Mater Index for 2013, with one in every 20 CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies holding at least one degree from the American university.

Harvard has awarded 31 degrees to 25 CEOs whose companies have raked in a massive £1 trillion in combined revenue. Notable alumni include Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon.

The University of Tokyo is in second place, with three per cent of alumni heading up companies featuring in the Global 500.

As for the UK, the highest-placed university is Oxford, in at 21st with five CEOs, while Cambridge, City University London and Cranfield have secured 45th, 89th and 92nd places respectively.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US dominates the top 10, with three entries joining Harvard; Stanford in third, the University of Pennsylvania in seventh and MIT in eighth. France has three institutions represented, while Japan has two and South Korea slips in with Seoul National University at number 10.

With the UK failing to break the top 10, students looking to expand their horizons in business may consider moving abroad to study. A spokesperson for the Alma Mater Index said: “While most CEOs attended university in their home country for their first degree, for the large proportion who went on to study for a masters, MBA or PhD degree, many of them travelled abroad to do so - indeed, travel does appear to broaden the mind.”

Other globally successful graduates of THE’s top 10 include Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn; Reed Hastings, Netflix; Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company; James McNerney, Boeing; and of course, J Patrick Doyle of students’ favourite, Domino’s Pizza.