'We don't need no MBA', sing these honchos

How crucial is it for a CEO to have an MBA degree? Not much, it seems. We have eight of the top corporate figures in India lined up here. They have no business degree, yet have made it big in the business world.

The Harvard Business Review published a 'CEOs and MBA' story in January this year. It was based on a study done by three professors from INSEAD, who examined the long-term performance of about 2000 CEOs during their tenures. Though the study found CEOs with MBA performing better than CEOs without MBA, only 14 CEOs out of the Top 50 had an MBA degree. The highest ranked CEO with the degree was Cisco Systems' John Chambers at No. 4. The other four CEOs with MBA in the top ten included Reliance Industries' Mukesh Ambani (5), eBay's Meg Whitman (8), and Monsanto's Hugh Grant (10). The best CEO as per that study was Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who does not have a business degree. Other non-MBAs in the top 10 included Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos and Google's Eric Schmidt. So, what makes a good CEO?

Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

She did her schooling in Bishop Cotton Girls School and went to Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Bangalore University in 1973. Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the Chairman & Managing Director of Biocon Ltd. A recipient of numerous international awards, Shaw was termed India's Biotech Queen by The Economist and Fortune and India's mother of invention by New York Times. She also figured in Time Magazine's the 100 most influential persons of the world in 2010.

NR Narayana Murthy

The co-founder of Infosys Technologies and currently the non-executive Chairman of the company has a degree in electrical engineering from the National Institute of Engineering. He went on to do his Masters from IIT Kanpur in 1969. Infosys became an international brand during his tenure from 1981 to 2002. His estimated net worth is $1.6 billion.

Nandan Nilekani

The former CEO of Infosys Technologies is currently the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). He did his schooling at Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bangalore, and St Joseph's High School Dharwad. He graduated with a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT, Bombay.

Sunil Mittal

The founder, chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Mittal built the Bharti group along with his brothers. Airtel now serves over 110 million Indian customers, becoming the largest telecom operator in the country.

Captain GR Gopinath

After graduating from the National Defence Academy and serving the Army for eight years, Gopinath launched the first low-cost airline in India--Air Deccan. Vijay Mallya bought it later and merged it with Kingfisher Airlines. In 2009 Gopinath started Deccan 360 freight and logistics operation. After a village school, he completed his schooling at Sainik School Bijapur. He then joined the National Defence Academy and graduated from the Indian Military Academy as a commissioned officer.

Kallam Anji Reddy

The founder-chairman of Dr. Reddy's Labs and chairman of Dr. Reddy's Foundation (DRF) Reddy spent his early years in the village of Tadepalli near Guntur. He graduated from the local high school and got his Bachelor of Science degree from AC College, Guntur. Then he did BScTech in Pharmaceuticals and Fine chemicals from Bombay University and a PhD in chemical engineering from the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune. Dr. Reddy's Laboratories put an end to India's dependence on drug imports in the mid-1980s. It can boast of an export industry now. The first company to take up drug discovery research in the country, Dr. Reddy's Labs became the first Indian pharmaceutical company to be listed on the NSE. It is now India's second largest pharmaceutical company.

Naresh Goyal

Goyal founded Jet Airways. He was the 16th richest man of India in 2006, as per Forbes magazine. As Jet Airways manager, he went on to take over Air Sahara. Jet Airways emerged as a big player in Indian air under his leadership. He has a degree in Commerce from Vikram College, Patiala.

Dr. Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel

Nirma is a legend in Indian business world. The Rs 2500 crore Nirma group started its journey with Patel on his bicycle. Patel did his BSc Chemistry and worked as a lab technician. Named after daughter Nirupama, Patel started selling Nirma washing powder, taking the products to the neighborhoods on his bicycle. Rest is history.

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