The book answers the questions of how and where America educates its leading chief executive officers. Where are America's top executives educated? What do they study? Do they typically attend the nation's most elite colleges? Or do they, like millions of other students, choose colleges because of reasons like proximity, cost, and state pride? How important are advanced degrees to their success? Is the MBA a prerequisite for becoming a CEO? I address these questions based on a study of 344 of the country's highest profile CEOs selected to represent a wide range of organizations and businesses.
The book will establish a theme that the majority of America's most high-powered CEOs did not attend elite colleges/universities or earn an MBA or graduate from highly selective institutions. Certainly, a significant number did so and were advantaged by the opportunity, but more often they were able to fashion for themselves a high-quality education at a rich array of institutions - public and private, regional and flagship, small and large, religious and secular. What proves more important than what colleges these leading executives attended, is the kinds of deep relationships and mentored experiences they developed. I illuminate these experiences through several vignettes in each chapter.
Michael T. Nietzel is currently the Deputy Director of the Department of Mental Health for the state of Missouri. Prior to this position, Nietzel, who earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois, served as Senior Policy Advisor to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (2011-2016), President of Missouri State University (2005-2010), and Provost at the University of Kentucky (2001-2005).