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Life After B-School: 5 Very Different HBS Grads

Posted in Test Prep on April 15, 2011 by

There are countless career possibilities for MBAs. Sure, many b-school grads go into banking and consulting, but a large proportion also end up forging less well-trod paths. In this new series, we’ll chronicle the career paths of MBAs from a variety of b-schools. Many of the names and occupations may be familiar to you — but others might catch you by surprise.

In the first installment of the series, check out five HBS alums who set out on very different paths.

The Educator:

Salman Khan, MBA ‘03
Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organization with the goal of providing “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” Khan Academy began when Salman Khan began tutoring his 12-year old cousin in mathematics remotely, using a shared online notepad service. Soon, her success led other cousins to ask for Khan’s help; to make the process more efficient for everyone, Khan began producing Youtube videos and writing Javascript problem generators so that his cousins wouldn’t run out of practice problems. His Youtube channel exploded, and eventually Khan quit his hedge-fund job and began to work full-time on Khan Academy. Kahn is a good example of an MBA who originally entered the world of finance (as a hedge fund analyst) only to go on to use his business acumen to develop a small seedling of an idea into a wildly successful organization.

The Politican:

Michael Bloomberg, MBA ‘66
Bloomberg is currently in his third term as the Mayor of New York City. Before embarking on his political career, Bloomberg had an extensive career as a businessman and entrepreneur. After being fired from his position as general partner at Solomon Brothers in 1981, he went on to found Innovative Market Solutions (later renamed Bloomberg L.P.), which now features prominent financial software tools like the Bloomberg Terminal, Bloomberg Tradebook, Bloomberg Messaging Service, and the Bloomberg newswire. Bloomberg was the CEO of Bloomberg L.P. until he decided to make a shift to politics. As #30 on Forbes’ 2011 list of The World’s Billionaires, Bloomberg is well-known for his philanthropic contributions to a variety of organizations.

The Reality Star:

Stacie Scott Turner, MBA ‘96
Though Turner might be most widely known for her turn as a cast member on The Real Housewives of DC, to be fair, she’s done a lot more than simply broadcast her inner cattiness to the world. Turner, a successful real estate agent currently with Long & Foster, has also worked at companies like BET and Procter and Gamble. In addition, Turner founded Extra-Ordinary Life, a charitable organization that aims to nurture teenage girls living in foster care. As her cast bio from The Real Housewives puts it, Turner “has it all — a Harvard MBA, successful real estate practice, and vigorous civic and philanthropic agenda.”

The CEO:

W. James McNerney, Jr., MBA ‘75
McNerney has been Chairman, President and CEO of The Boeing Company since 2005. Prior to working at Boeing, he was President and CEO at 3M and held top executive positions (President and/or CEO) at various divisions of General Electric. McNerney, who began his post-MBA career as a Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble and a Senior Manager at McKinsey & Company, is a good example of a business school alumni who worked his way up from traditional post b-school jobs to top positions at major corporations.

The “Father of the Spreadsheet”:

Dan Bricklin, MBA ‘79

Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankson, 1980

Ever used Excel? If so, you may want to thank Dan Bricklin. Bricklin, along with Bob Frankston, is commonly referred to as the Father of the Spreadsheet for his invention of VisiCalc spreadsheet program in 1979. As the first electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc helped the computer become a serious business tool — it was interactive and powerful, and many aspects of its user interface are still present today in popular spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel. VisiCalc was widely accessible (it was distributed for $100), especially compared to the financial tools that preceded it. Bricklin used his business acumen, as well as his degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, to make Software Arts, Inc., the company that sold VisiCalc into a success. He went on to found Software Garden, a consulting firm and software developer, and Trellix Corporation, a provider of web site publishing software and management services.