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Do you have to go to business school to be a CEO?

Question: Do you have to go to business school to be a CEO?

George Jones: Well, I personally don’t feel that going to business school is a requirement for a CEO because I didn’t go to business school and certainly I’ve been able to do that. However, I think if I had it to do over again I probably would have gone to business school only because I think that it’s part of the learning process that can be really, really valuable. So do I consider it a mandatory prerequisite for being able to move through a corporate ladder and become a CEO? Absolutely not. I think that there are so many factors that can contribute to that and we have a lot of- within our company a lot of very intelligent, a lot of very innovative, a lot of people that are- just have the drive and the skills to really move up the ladder that may not have gone to business school. We have a lot of very, very talented people within our company that did not go to business school but yet they are very intelligent, they’ve gained valuable experience to their careers, they are good decision makers, they’re innovative, they have the drive, they have really the qualities necessary to move up the ladder and some maybe all the way up the ladder to become a CEO, so I definitely don’t think it’s a mandatory prerequisite that you have to have gone to business school to be a CEO. That said, I think business school provides a very valuable foundation that can- that you can call upon and it’s a way of really gaining knowledge and experience that you may otherwise not get or not get as quickly as you move through the ranks of a company. I was very fortunate. I didn’t go to business school but I was very, very fortunate that I had just some tremendously good mentors along the way that I really was able to tap in to their experience and learn, and I think that made a huge difference for me in my career. If I had not had that advantage, business school would probably be then even more valuable to me. So I think it’s a personal decision but if I had it to do over again, yeah, I would go to business school. If I was just coming out and trying to say, “Here I’m at point A. I want to get to point B. I’d love to be able to be a senior executive or even run a major company someday,” I’d give myself the advantage of going to business school.


Recorded on: 6/18/08

George Jones says you can succeed in business without an MBA, yet he regrets not earning one.

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