Who says it’s no longer a straight line to the top?
In the past month, two of the biggest and best-known corporations in the world, General Motors and Wal-Mart, rewarded loyalty by giving the CEO job to people who had spent their entire careers at the company.
Mary Barra of GM rose from a summer job as a teenager inspecting panels at a Pontiac plant to the automaker’s first female CEO. And Doug McMillon of Wal-Mart started out at the company unloading trucks and then climbed the ranks for decades.
We’ve collected some of the other major CEOs who have managed to rise from entry-level positions all the way to the top of their companies.
Over the course of her 33-year career at GM, Barra has held a variety of jobs, including plant manager, executive assistant to the CEO, and head of Human Resources. She'll become the first female CEO of a major automaker starting next year, replacing current chief Dan Akerson.
Over the course of his career, McMillon has been in just about every job at Wal-Mart. He quickly made his way from a buyer in an Oklahoma store to a series of management positions at the headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. He followed the same career path as current CEO Michael Duke, who he'll replace next year, and previously ran Sam's Club and the company's international operations.
Rometty took over for Sam Palmisano in early 2012. Over the course of her career at IBM, she spearheaded the company's move into the consulting business and its transition to the cloud. She also oversaw the development of the WATSON supercomputer.
Burns, an engineer by training, joined Xerox right out of college and never left. She got a sense of what it was like to lead after serving as an executive assistant to then CEO Paul Allaire. She took over from Anne Mulcahy in July 2009.
Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman joined the company's finance department right after graduating from Milliken College in 1975.
Tillerson has led the world's largest public company since 2004. During his 30-plus-year career at the company, he's led exploration and drilling projects all over the world, including in Alaska, Canada, Yemen, and Russia's Sakhalin Island.
John Watson joined Chevron in 1980 as a financial analyst after getting an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat started with Salomon Brothers, which later merged with Citi, as a bond salesman in Atlanta in 1983.
Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley joined the company in 1977 after a stint in the Navy and getting a Harvard MBA.
This is Lafley's second stint as CEO. He retired in 2010 after a successful period in which the company grew massively, only to return earlier this year to replace Bob McDonald.
Gregory Wasson got his start at Walgreens as a pharmacy intern in 1980 while studying at Purdue University.
Krzanich, who took over the chipmaker earlier this year for Paul Otelini, rose through the ranks as an engineer to eventually run some of the company's most important and advanced manufacturing plants. After that, he led the whole company's assembly and testing operations.
Greg Garland took over Phillips 66, which was spun off from Conoco Phillips, after 32 years at the parent company.
Garland joined what was then Phillips Petroleum as a chemical engineer in 1980 after graduating from Texas A&M. Since then, he's run everything from exploration and production to operations in Qatar, as well as planning and specialty projects.
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