Check Out These 10 Super-Successful CEOs' First Jobs

First Check

Photo: Flickr via bigburpsx3

At some point in their lives, every young adult realises that they no longer want to ask for mum and Dad’s permission to purchase their latest “need,” like that new outfit, or the latest awesome video game. Or just lunch.So they go out and get a job of their very own.

One day, those same young adults will look back and consider that first job more than just an insignificant side step taken to collect a few extra dollars — it could have been the beginning of a gradual ascent toward the C-Suite.

From flipping burgers, to teaching in public schools, to working in the rice fields of China, some of the world’s most powerful CEOs started out their careers in humble places.

Some of them took their first job simply to earn some money, but many learned lessons critical to their future success. A few even found love in labour and launched successful careers from all the way down the food chain.

So put down that get-rich-quick scheme, stop throwing away money looking to invest in the next MSFT circa 1982, don’t keep wasting your time patenting your latest idea, and instead, take a look at how these CEOs got started on the path towards riches. As you’ll see, there’s really no substitute for hard work.

McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner: McDonalds store manager

The king of the hamburger empire got his first job flipping burgers in 1971, at McDonald's.

He worked as a restaurant manager trainee at a suburban location in Illinois, and two years later he graduated from Hamburger University (that's what McDonald's calls their corporate training location) to begin climbing the ladder towards CEO.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Walmart International CEO Doug McMillon: Unloader

Appointed CEO of Walmart International in 2009, McMillon must have Walmart retail employees hopeful that they'll get some of the benefits they've been clamoring for.

After all, McMillon was in their shoes once. His first job had him unloading trucks at a Walmart Distribution centre in Arkansas.


Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg: payroll clerk

Deloitte's keen on telling clients to keep an eye on employee paychecks.

That's exactly what Salzberg did during his first job as a payroll clerk for the New York Board of Education.

Source: The New York Times

Costco CEO James Sinegal: Mattress unloader

Like most college students, Sinegal wanted some pocket money, so he took a job unloading mattresses at Fed-Mart, the predecessor to Price Club.

Unlike most college students, Sinegal actually liked his job.

He fell in love with retail and went on to create Costco, and got to trade in unpacking mattresses for deciding whether his locations will carry mattresses in the first place.


Lenovo Chairman Liu Chuanzhi: Rice farmer

Hailing from China, the founder and chairman of the PC company that swallowed IBM's PC division, Liu had inauspicious beginnings.

In the late 1960s he labored in rice fields during Chairman Mao's so-called 'Cultural Revolution.'

40 years later Lenovo computers were essential in the production of Mao's most recent 'cultural' outlay: the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Source: Wired

New York Times Company CEO Janet Robinson: elementary school teacher

The head of the most trusted news source in the world was accustomed to being counted upon for information long before she got started in the publishing industry.

Robinson taught elementary school students in her first job at a Rhode Island public school.

Source: The New York Times Co.

Viacom Majority Stockholder and Chairman Sumner Redstone: spy

Redstone's first job was in the United States military intelligence unit during World War II. (He was a spy!)

Intelligence is the appropriate word for Viacom, too, when you consider it is the brains behind MTV and their star-du-jour, Snooki.

Source: Viacom

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein: Stadium beer guy

Blankfein's first paycheck came from selling concessions to fans at Yankee Stadium.

Today, he runs the 'Evil Empire' of the financial industry and takes in more money than the star ballplayers on the field.

Source: BBC

Dell Founder and CEO Michael Dell: dishwasher

Dell washed dishes at a local Chinese restaurant for his first paycheck.

It wasn't the last time he'd make a buck from the Chinese. In 2009, China was the second largest market for Dell PCs generating $4 billion in revenue for the company.

Source: McCombs School of Business

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: fact checker

Bewkes wanted to be a television reporter and he got his feet off the ground as a researcher for NBC News.

Clearly, he learned enough to know not to purchase NBC Universal. Comcast, on the other hand, has declining profits as a result of its decision to takeover the network property.

Source: New York Magazine

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