When you hear about famous people with MBAs, you usually picture high-powered CEOs that worked their way up the career ladder to land positions at Fortune 500 companies. That’s not always the case though — here are four celebrity MBA holders who just might surprise you.
Better known as the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten is recognized in kitchens across America for her effortless, casual parties featuring her best culinary creations portrayed on her Food Network show. It’s hard, then, to picture her previous life. Ina Garten once worked in the White House and worked her way up, which eventually put her in charge of writing the nuclear budget for the United States. She also managed to earn her MBA from George Washington University at the same time. Despite her success, she decided she wanted a different life.
One day, she spotted an advertisement for a tiny retail space in the Hamptons and, on a whim, quit her job and opened a specialty food store. Her MBA training and her love for food and entertaining helped her develop the Barefoot Contessa brand into the powerhouse it is today.
Shaquille O’Neal has worn many hats in his lifetime, including becoming one of the best NBA players of all time, launching a successful rapping career, starring in movies, and hosting his own show. Few people know that he also has a passion for collecting degrees. Shaq earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2005 and later went on to earn a Doctorate in Education from Barry University. He’s said in interviews that his next goal is to go to law school.
Mehmet Oz, the famous TV doctor catapulted to fame by Oprah Winfrey, is now a household name. Not only is he a successful TV personality, best-selling author, and professor of surgery at Columbia University, he also earned his MBA while going to medical school. Doing anything while attending medical school is a feat in itself, but Mehmet Oz earned his degree from the prestigious Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. Did we mention he also earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard?
While the old story that Phil Knight started what would become Nike in his garage with nothing but a waffle iron and a dream has a ring of truth to it, he was nothing if not prepared. Phil Knight had actually already earned his MBA from Stanford University where he developed a passion for entrepreneurship.
In fact, he initially came up with the idea to start a running shoe company when he had to make a business plan for one of his classes. When the former track star started the company with his business partner, they initially sold Japanese running shoes and later developed their own product. Knight has gone on to become one of the richest people in the world, landing at number 37 on the Forbes list of global billionaires.
As these celebrities go to show you, the skills learn while earning a MBA are transferable to many different careers. Did any of these entries surprise you?
To learn more about earning your MBA, visit Washington State University’s online MBA program.