Phil Knight, Founder and Former CEO of Nike
Stanford MBA '62, served in the U.S. Army Reserve
Before he got his MBA from the Stanford, Nike founder Phil Knight served in the army as a 2nd lieutenant, followed by seven years in the Army Reserve. Knight came up with the idea for Nike as part of an assignment for a Stanford small business class that required students to write a mission and marketing plan for a company they invented. Knight's paper "Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?" allowed him to develop a business plan for high-quality running shoes that are manfactured in Japan at a lower cost. Knight began distributing shoes out of his father's basement before starting Nike in 1971. He was recently listed in Forbes magazine as the 47th richest billionaire in the world.
Frank Batten, Founder of the Weather Channel
Harvard MBA '52, served in the Merchant Marines
Frank Batten served in the Merchant Marines after graduating from high school in 1945. Batten participated in several transatlantic runs aboard the John Erickson, a large group transport. He got his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and spent his summers interning at a local newspaper before entering Harvard Business School in 1952. While the idea for the Weather Channel actually came from ABC weather reporter John Coleman, Batten invested in the concept and stood by it even though advertisers didn't immediately like the idea. Batten grew the Weather Channel from less than 10 million subscribers to 50 million households in the early 90s. In 2008, NBC Universal bought the Weather Channel for $3.5 billion, and it is now the second most popular cable channel behind TBS.
C. Michael Harper, Former CEO of ConAgra
Chicago Booth MBA , served in the U.S. Army
C. Michael Harper became the first CEO of ConAgra in 1974. He is credited with growing ConAgra through acquisitions. After ConAgra purchased Banquet Frozen Foods and Armour Foods, it became one of the largest food companies in the United States. Between 1979 and 1985, while Harper was still CEO, sales increased 60%. Sales went from $636 million in 1974 when Harper started at ConAgra to $9 billion in 1987.
Joe DiPinto, CEO of 7-Eleven
Kellogg MBA, served in the U.S. Army
While you may know of Joe DiPinto because of his appearance on the first season of Undercover Boss, you may not know that he attended West Point as well as the Executive MBA program at Kellogg. DiPinto's military and MBA experiences helped build his teamwork skills. In a YouTube video about his Kellogg MBA, DiPinto states, "I didn't think I could get more immersed in team than I was coming out of the military, then I got to Kellogg." After attending Kellogg, DiPinto held executive positions at PepsiCo and Thornton Oil and was the President of GameStop. DiPinto became the CEO of 7-Eleven, the world's largest convenience store chain, in 2005. 7-Eleven has a total of 46,000 stores in 16 countries.
A.G. Lafley, Former President and CEO of Procter & Gamble
Harvard MBA '77, served in the U.S. Navy
A.G. Lafely is credited with turning around Procter & Gamble through micromarketing, innovation, and talent cultivation. Four years into Lafleys tenure at Procter & Gamble, sales topped $50 billion which was a record for the company. Lafley served in the Vietnam war as a junior naval supply officer before attending Harvard Business School. He began working at Procter & Gamble right after business school as a brand assistant for Joy dishwashing detergent. While in the navy, Lafely ran a military department store where he impelemented suggestions given to him by the naval wives. Taking customers suggestions to heart is also how he improved Procter & Gamble, which became more successful as a result of Lafely's mantra "The customer is boss."
Thomas S. Murphy, former Chairman and CEO Capital Cities/ABC
Harvard MBA '49, served in the U.S. Navy
Thomas S. Murphy was in charge of the acquisition of the American Broadcasting Company in 1986. Before entering the broadcasting world, Murphy served in the navy, got his Harvard MBA, and spent five years working at Lever Brothers, as well as the advertising firm Kenyon & Eckhardt. Murphy became the general manager of WROW TV and made it profitable within three years, despite the facgt that he had no previous broadcasting experience. He became the CEO of Capital Cities Broadcasting Corp. only seven years after the company was formed and held the position for 30 years. When Capital Cities bought ABC, it became was largest media merger in history until Capital Cities/ABC later merged with Disney. In addition to growing Capital Cities, Murphy is credited with several successful public service television campaigns. In 1961, Capital Cities received a Peabody award for being the only network to cover Israel's trial of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichman.
William A. Porter, Founder of E*TRADE
MIT Sloan MBA '67, served in the U.S. Navy Reserve
William A. Porter created E*TRADE, the first electronic stock brokerage and has been dubbed "the forefather of online trading" by CNN. Long before the creation of E*TRADE, Porter served in the U.S. Navy Reserve during the Korean War. A year after getting his MBA from Sloan, Porter created Commercial electronics, a company that developed the first low-light night vision electron microscopes and the first low-light night vision broadcast camera. Porter got the idea for E*TRADE after he purchased an Apple IIe computer in 1980. E*TRADE has changed stock trading forever, since it did away with the use of ticker tape and was a leader in spreading electronic stock trading.