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5 famous female leaders who did an MBA

Discover some of the world's most successful female leaders, who all happen to be MBA graduates. 


At the University of Hull, we’ll help you develop your full potential as a leader and prepare you for future business decision-making at the highest levels of responsibility.


On our Global MBA, you’ll not only learn how to lead people in organisations, but also how to respond to rapidly changing business environments. These and other skills have helped some of the most famous female leaders on their path to corporate success. 


The late, great Maya Angelou once said that people will forget what you said and forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.


This sentiment seems to be understood by some of the most successful female leaders as we look to them for inspiration and advice, below. This and the fact they are all MBA graduates is something they share in common. 

Sheryl Sandberg (Technology) 


Described by Time magazine as the first woman to become a social media billionaire, Sheryl Sandberg became COO of Facebook in 2008 and the first woman to serve on its board in 2012. She was Harvard’s top graduating student in economics in 1991 and earned her MBA with highest distinction four years later.


As a transformational leader, Sheryl celebrates her employees’ successes and believes that praise encourages people to do better work: “I feel really grateful to the people who encouraged me and helped me develop. Nobody can succeed on their own.” 

Mary Barra (Automotive) 


In 2014, Mary Barra became the first female CEO of a ‘Big Three’ car manufacturer when she was appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of General Motors (GM). Born in Michigan to parents of Finnish descent, she earned her MBA from Stanford Graduate School in 1990 on a GM scholarship.


Ranked #4 in Forbes 2021 Power Women listing, she has described her leadership style as collaborative: “If we win the hearts and minds of employees, we’re going to have better business success.” 

Susanne Klatten (Pharmaceuticals) 


After inheriting her father’s stake in pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturer Altana, Suzanne Klatten helped transform it into a world-class corporation in the German DAX list of the top 30 companies. With a net worth estimated at $23.4 billion, she is the richest woman in Germany and 68th richest in the world according to the 2022 Bloomberg Billionaires Index.


Susanne, who obtained her MBA from IMD Business School, told Manager Magazin: “My work as an entrepreneur and shareholder promotes self-determination and self-responsibility. I try to encourage people.” 

Cindy Mi (Education) 


As a child growing up in China, Cindy Mi spent her lunch money on audio cassettes and magazines to teach herself English, which inspired her aged just 17 to co-found ABC English, a tutoring company. After studying her MBA at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, she founded VIPKid in 2012, an online teaching and education company. Valued at $3 billion, it is now the world’s largest K-12 English-language online educator.


Passion is what she looks for in staff: “People who are passionate bring certain care and positive energy to their work that makes it deeply motivating to work alongside them.” 

Sallie Krawcheck (Finance) 


Once the most powerful woman on Wall Street, Sallie Krawcheck held CEO roles at Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and Sanford C. Bernstein and is former head of Bank of America's Global Wealth and Investment Management division. A Columbia Business School MBA graduate, she co-founded and has guided Ellevest, a digital financial advisor for women, to $1 billion in assets under management since its 2016 launch.


She tells Ellevest: “It’s important to me to have a team that’s different from me. After all, there’s no point in having people the same as me, is there? Sort of defeats the purpose of having a team.” 

Ready to improve your leadership? 


Our two-year part-time, online Global MBA aims to equip you with the advanced business knowledge, interpersonal and analytical skills you need to make bold business decisions and lead you and your organisation to success.


We’ll help you build your adaptability, teamworking skills and resilience to become a bold and visionary leader:


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