12 CEOs Who Got Their Start As Boy Scouts

boy scout mansion

You probably didn’t know Hank Paulson was once chair of the Nature Conservancy.

Wildlife preservation is a passion the former U.S. Treasury Secretary picked up decades ago, while working up to his Eagle Scout designation — well before he landed his first gig at Goldman Sachs. 

Paulson is one of several powerful U.S. leaders who trace their success back to early lessons learned from scouting.

“I get letters from Eagles who say ‘Paulson, would you look at hiring me at Goldman Sachs?'” he says in Alvin Townley’s book, “Legacy of honour: The Value and Influence of America’s Boy Scouts.”

The Boy Scouts of America have been around since 1910. The group’s mission is to foster moral strength, promote citizenship, and help children grow up physically and morally healthy.

Or, as the Scouts originally stated: “to rescue boys from the feminizing clutches of mothers and Sunday School teachers, and to get them out into the woods to learn how to be men.”

We’ve compiled a list of famous Boy Scout business leaders, ranked in order of net worth.


Rex Tillerson -- CEO of Exxon Mobil

Estimated Net Worth: More than $40 million

Highest Scout Rank: Eagle Scout, Silver Buffalo Recipient, National President.

'I have a lot of terrific memories associated with scouting, probably most of the high points of my growing up years,' Tillerson told the Boy Scouts of America.

'If you look around, there aren't a lot of places where we give young people those values at those formative years and reinforce them in the way that the scouting program reinforces by putting them in real life situations where they have to interact with peers, older children and adults. It's probably more relative today than ever because as I look out there, there just isn't another program that exists today that does that.'

Tillerson on Scouting:

Hank Paulson -- Former U.S. Treasury Secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs

Estimated Net Worth: $700 million

Highest Scout Rank: Eagle Scout

Scouting helped foster Paulson's lifelong interest in wildlife and nature conservation. He later became chairman of the Nature Conservancy. Under Paulson, the Conservancy worked with the Boy Scouts and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to conserve Scout Camp Nanticoke, a nesting ground for bald eagles.

Paulson was interviewed for the book 'Legacy of honour: The Values and Influence of America's Boy Scouts' by Alvin Townley. In the book, he hinted that Eagle Scout status can perhaps help a young man get a job.

'I get letters from Eagles who say 'Paulson, would you look at hiring me at Goldman Sachs?'' he said. 'And their having that Eagle rank is a positive thing. Then I look and see if they've done anything since becoming an Eagle scout.'

J.W. Marriott Jr. -- Chairman and CEO of Marriott International

Estimated Net Worth: $1.3 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Eagle Scout

The heir to Marriott International was also a member of the Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America.

Source: University of Utah

Walter Scott Jr. -- Former CEO of Peter Kiewit and Sons

John Edward Anderson -- CEO of Topa Equities Ltd.

Estimated Net Worth: $2.3 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Distinguished Eagle Scout

Anderson earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1931 at his local troop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is now the President and sole owner of Topa Equities Ltd., a multi-national food services company.

Steven Spielberg -- Founder of Dreamworks

Stephen Bechtel, Jr. -- Co-Owner of the Bechtel Corporation

Estimated Net Worth: $3 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Distinguished Eagle Scout, Silver Buffalo Recipient

In an interview with Forbes, Bechtel attributed much of his success to the Boy Scouts:

'Thinking back on it, I think probably the best thing about it was the things that I learned in the way of character. Moral character, work ethic, hard work, decisiveness, and just working on things,' he said.

Bechtel's foundation donated $50 million to Boy Scouts of America.

Source: Forbes

Charles F. Dolan -- Founder of HBO and Cablevision

Estimated Net Worth: $3.3 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Distinguished Eagle Scout

Dolan's first foray into media started when he took photographs of scout activities and sold them to a local newspaper. The young Dolan then wrote a weekly column on scouting for the paper for $2/week. He now owns media companies and sports teams.

H. Ross Perot -- Founder of Perot Systems and former U.S. presidential candidate

Estimated Net Worth: $5 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Eagle Scout

The self-made billionaire once advocated teaching the Boy Scout Oath to children in poor neighborhoods as a solution to poverty.

Michael Bloomberg -- Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg LP

Estimated Net Worth: $18 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Eagle Scout

When Bloomberg was a child in Medford, Massachusetts, he had to sell Christmas wreathes to raise the money for Boy Scout camp. He eventually became an Eagle Scout, and later, a multi-billionaire and the mayor of the largest city in the United States. In a State of the City speech, he credited the Boy Scouts for sparking his interest in public service.

'Public service is a gift that most of us have experienced; for me, it began in the Boy Scouts. And in these tough times, it's up to us to share that gift even more generously with our friends and neighbours.'

Sam Walton -- Founder of Wal-Mart

Estimated Net Worth: $25 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Eagle Scout

The bargain basement billionaire reached the rank of Eagle Scout at the young age of 13. Alvin Townley's book Legacy of honour tells the story of how the young Sam put his scout training into practice as a young man when he saved a boy from drowning in a river.

Bill Gates -- Co-Founder of Microsoft

Estimated Net Worth: $53 billion

Highest Scout Rank: Eagle Scout, Silver Buffalo Award Recipient

Gates reached the rank of Life Scout in Troop 186 in the Sand Point neighbourhood where he grew up. Last year, the Boy Scouts granted him their highest honour, the Silver Buffalo award, for his achievements in business and philanthropy.

In his acceptance speech, Gates called his experience with the scouts 'positive.'

'I wasn't good at hiking, I wasn't good at cooking the food. It was the overall experience of challenging yourself,' he said. 'The merit badges I received: Basket weaving. Wood carving. I was really good at those things. And imagine if I hadn't learned those things?'

BONUS: L. Ron Hubbard - Founder of the Church of Scientology

BONUS: George W. Bush

BONUS: Barack Obama

We all have humble beginnings

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