Five Liberal Art Graduates Who Became Tech CEOs (Rank Princess – SEO)

In today’s world of emerging technologies, most of us opt to pursue a technical degree and strive hard to succeed. This notion is surprisingly not true as there are gems born in this world who have changed the face of technology, despite a humanities degree on their CV.If you still believe that a technical degree is a mandate to rule the world of IT, this article will completely change your perception.

Some successful IT giants like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Evan Williams, Michael Dell and others have made it evident that a degree is not a pre-requisite for success.

There are people who did not prefer to learn the rules, but make them. Only these people have left their graduate friends behind and occupied the top notch.As they say, ‘if you are willing to learn, you can do it by any means, and if you are not prepared to learn, you will find excuses’.

When it comes to a techie striving hard to code a software, it is a sales or marketing person who sells it for money.This article will walk you through a list of 5 CEOs who obtained a liberal arts degree but went on to lead many IT companies.

1. Carly Fiorina

Former CEO, Hewlett-Packard

Degree – B.A.(Medieval History and Philosophy)

Alma Mater: Stanford University, 1976

Journey Towards Success

Despite holding a Stanford degree, Fiorina had struggled hard before she could land a job of a secretary, receptionist, and English teacher post graduation.

At the age of 25, she landed a management trainee (sales) job at AT&T and slowly moved into IT through Lucent Technologies.

In July 1999, Fiorina was declared as the first female CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company and also the first woman to lead a Fortune20 Company.

Fiorina also acquired an MBA degree from Smith School of Business, College Park in 1980. She also earned an M.S. in Management at MIT Sloan School of Management in 1989.

2. Susan Wojcicki

CEO, Youtube

Degree – B.A. (History and Literature)

Alma Mater: Harvard University, 1990

Journey towards success

After graduating with honours in 1990, Wojcicki decided to go for PhD in Economics but changed her mind after discovering technology. Later, she decided to go to Silicon Valley and landed a job.

Wojcicki worked in marketing at Intel in California and also as a management consultant at R.B. Webber & Company and Bain & Company before becoming Google’s first marketing manager in 1999.

She became the Senior Vice President in Google and led its advertising and analytic products such as Adsense, Google Analytics, Double Click and Adwords. She also developed Adwords – one of Google’s largest sources of revenue.

She was declared the CEO of Youtube in February 2014.

Wojcicki also earned M.S. in Economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1993 and MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998.

3. John Thomas Chamber

Former CEO, Cisco Systems (currently, Executive Chairman)

Degree – B.A.(Business)

Alma Mater- West Virginia University, 1971

Journey towards success

At the age of 27, Chambers started his career in technology sales at IBM (1976-1983).

In 1983, he went to Wang Laboratories and became the vice president (US operations) in 1987. Wang made a profit of $2 million in 1989 and faced a massive loss of $700 million in 1990.

In the year 1991, Chambers quit Wang and joined Cisco at the age of 42.

In January 1995, he became the CEO of Cisco Systems. Later, Cisco became a multimillion dollar company, making a massive profit from $70 million to $40 billion in 2007.

In November 2006, he took over the responsibility of Chairman of the Board in addition to his role as the CEO.

Chambers also received a law degree from West Virginia University College of Law (1974). He also earned an MBA degree from Kelly School of Business, Indiana University (1975).

4. Stephen J. Luczo

Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO, Seagate Technology

Degree – B.A. (Economics & Psychology)

Alma Mater – Stanford University, 1979

Journey towards success

Steve started his professional career as a staff accountant (audit practice) at Touche Ross & Co. (1979-1980) after gaining a liberal arts degree.

Later, he joined the Port of San Francisco and became the acting chief financial officer in 1981, and later resigned in August 1982.He returned to Stanford to pursue an MBA degree, and after graduating in 1984, he joined Salomon Brothers as an investment banker (1984-1992).

He was appointed as the Senior Managing Director of the Global Technology Group of Bear, Stears & Co. Inc. (February 1992-October 1993).

In October 1993, he joined Seagate Technology as Senior Vice President of Corporate Department and got appointed as the CEO in July 1998.

5. Meg Whitman

Former CEO, Hewlett-Packard Enterprises

Degree – B.A. Economics

Alma Mater – Princeton University, 1977

Journey towards success

She obtained an MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1979.

She started her professional career as a brand manager at Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later she moved to Bain & Company where she earned the position of senior vice president.

Whitman also served at the Walt Disney Company (1989), Stride Rite Corporation(1991) and Dreamworks SKG. She joined eBay in March 1998 where she was appointed as the CEO and later moved to Goldman Sachs in October 2011.

In January 2011, she joined Hewlett-Packard’s board of directors and got promoted to CEO on September 22, 2011.


This is just a small list to inspire those who consider a liberal arts degree futile. These CEOs have earned remarkable success through sheer hard work and determination and have changed the face of the world.

Thus a technical degree might help in gaining a super senior position in a company, but it is not a mandate for those who are born to win.


Keywords: liberal arts degree

LSI Keywords: CEO, degree, technical degree, MBA degree, technology, job



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