Education & Family

Harvard tops league table of where bosses studied

Harvard University campus Image copyright AFP
Image caption Harvard taught the biggest number of heads of global companies

A survey of university backgrounds of heads of major global companies found that Harvard in the United States was the most likely place to have studied.

The Times Higher Education magazine ranked the universities attended by chief executive officers of Fortune Global 500 companies.

There are four US universities in the top 10, with three from France, two from Japan and one from South Korea.

The highest ranked UK university is Oxford in 21st place.

This league table, described as the Alma Mater Index, shows which universities around the world taught the bosses of some of the world's biggest companies.

One in 20 had a degree from a single institution, Harvard.

This included Margaret C Whitman of Hewlett-Packard, Jeffrey R Immelt of General Electric and Vittorio Colao of Vodafone.

This academic powerhouse regularly appears at the top of university league tables, including the rich list, with an endowment worth $31bn (£20bn' 23.5bn euro).

But the top 10 for producing business leaders does not contain all the usual names that appear at the top of university rankings.

Oxford and Cambridge are absent, but the University of Pennsylvania in the US and Keio University in Japan are included, along with three French universities, headed by the Ecole Polytechnique.

It means that in this top 10 cradles of global CEOs, there are two institutions from Paris, two from the Boston area and two from Tokyo.

Across the top 100, universities from the US dominate, followed by universities in China, Japan, France and Germany. There are more CEOs who went to university in Asia than in Europe.

In terms of national comparisons, UK universities produced the sixth highest number of global chief executives, with Oxford in 21st place and Cambridge in 45th place.

But even though Harvard might have taught the biggest number of bosses from the top 500 companies, it was not attended by any of the heads of the biggest 10 companies, who were from a more diverse range of universities.

Royal Dutch Shell is headed by a graduate of Zurich University of Applied Sciences; Wal-Mart is headed by a student of Georgia Tech and Exxon Mobil has a chief executive from the University of Texas, Austin.

Three of the leaders of these biggest companies went to university in China and the head of Volkswagen went to university in Stuttgart.

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