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Do you need a college degree to become a CEO?

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Does success have to be accompanied by a college degree?

A report by blogger Susan Webber raised questions among retirees when they learned that CalPERS chief executive officer, Marcie Frost, did not graduate from college. The report put the CEO under fire, although she did not claim to have a college degree when she applied to lead the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in 2016.

There are, at least, 14 billionaire CEOs without a degree. Bill Gates, co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, is a college dropout, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. The list goes on from Richard Branson of Virgin Group to Richard Schulze, former CEO of Best Buy.

But are these successful stories the exception to the rule? Consultant managers don’t think so. They say there are four behaviors that transform ordinary people into world-class leaders. Business experts argue that there are common attributes and counter-intuitive choices that set apart successful CEOs.

So what are those traits and how can CEOs get to the top without a college degree? If you are a CEO, who made it to the top without a degree, call us at 866-893-5722 and weigh in.


Elena L. Botelho, co-author of  “How CEOs Without College Degrees Got to the Top,” a study that was published earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review; New York Times bestselling co-author of the book “The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders” (Crown Publishing, 2018); partner at ghSmart, a Chicago, Illinois-based business consulting firm that helps CEOs, boards and investors