Which Australian University Produces The Most CEOs?

Bond University on the Gold Coast produces the largest number of CEOs as a percentage of enrolments.

Australia’s leading Group of Eight universities is known for their billion-dollar budgets and world-class research. But which of the country’s schools consistently turn out successful leaders?

According to new research by Resume.io , Go8 universities account for only half of the top ten when measured by total or by proportion.

Resume.io recorded the number of graduates listed on the university’s LinkedIn pages and analysed alum profiles with CEO or similar in their job titles to reveal which universities produce the most business leaders.

The five Australian universities to have produced the most business leaders are the ones with the highest enrolment levels – although not in the same order.

University of New South Wales (UNSW) came in top place with 14,275 of its 251,960 LinkedIn grads listed as bosses.

UNSW is home to a business school and, within that, the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM); the Financial Times ranks the school’s MBA among the top 100 worldwide.

One of UNSW’s most notable graduates is Mike Cannon-Brookes. The billionaire founder and co-CEO of Atlassian now funds a substantial scholarship for the Computer Science BSc at his alma mater.

Second on the list was Monash University (13,273, followed by the University of Sydney (12,363), the University of Melbourne (11.747) and RMIT University (11,456).

For the best shot at business success, however, two non-Go8 schools jump to the top. Proportionally, Bond University and the University of New England produce more business leaders than any other Australian college.

Established on Queensland’s Gold Coast as late as 1989, Bond is consistently ranked as the country’s most student-friendly university.

However, “to choose Bond takes bravery, and it takes focus,” says David Baxby, Bond graduate and former co-CEO of the Virgin Group. “To go mainstream with your peers, that is the easy route. “People who are willing to take a risk, make a conscious choice and not just go with the flow are the people who are really getting on in this world.”

“It wasn’t so much that we felt special but we had all made an active choice to try something new. So, it attracted people of the same mindset. And those relationships have been maintained ever since.”

Andrew Norton, a higher education policy expert from Australian National University said UNSW’s sheer size, the reputation of its business school and location in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs would be contributing factors to its producing many business leaders.

“There is a virtuous circle that once an institution has a certain reputation, it then goes on to attract more people who will go on to extend that reputation. And it has one of the longest-running, most successful MBA programs,” Mr Norton said.

On the flip side, Bond’s reputation as being a teaching-focused, small university would have been beneficial in attracting students who had clear notions about their future, as would its big scholarship program.

Resume.io also examined the LinkedIn accounts of people in the US, Canada and the UK and found that Harvard University has the most business leaders on LinkedIn, a total 41,118.

However, the small, little-known Babson College in Massachusetts produced more business leaders per 1000 graduates at 160.5. The college has been rated No. 1 for its MBA in entrepreneurship by US News & World Report for 29 years and first in its undergraduate program by the same ranking for 26 years.

The survey notes that US Ivy League colleges have the greatest brand recognition across the world – think Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Brown, Colombia – only three are among the top 10 producers of business leaders by number, and only one – Princeton – makes it to the table for producing the highest proportion of business leaders, while four are military colleges.

In the UK, Cambridge has produced the most business leaders in the UK (26,688), but Oxford produces the most per 1000 (73.6).

While Canada’s most highly ranked institution, the University of Toronto has the highest number of business leaders on LinkedIn, the Royal Roads University in the British Columbia capital of Victoria has the highest proportion of business leaders.

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).