Where Harvard MBAs Work & What They Do

Where do Harvard MBAs work and in what industries?

With its wealth of membership data, LinkedIn is now providing a glimpse into this answer. Of course, not all Harvard MBAs are registered with the professional networking site so it’s an obviously incomplete list. Even so, the data provides an interesting window into the most likely employers of Harvard MBAs as well as the most likely industries that attract its graduates.

Source: LinkedIn membership data

Not surprisingly, the number one employer of Harvard MBAs is McKinsey & Co, which according to LinkedIn data, has 507 consultants who are LinkedIn members with MBAs from the school. In fact, the top three firms are all consulting firms. McKinsey is followed by Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Co.

How does this compare with some of the other elite schools? Wharton, of course, has far greater representation among financial firms. Five of the top eight employers of Wharton MBAs, for example, are investment banking firms: No. 2 Goldman Sachs, No. 4 Citicorp, No. 5 Morgan Stanley, No. 7 Merrill Lynch, and No. 8 J.P. Morgan. According to LinkedIn, Merrill Lynch has four times as many Wharton MBAs to Harvard, 237 versus 62, as of December, 2012.

What does seem surprising, however, is that the biggest brand company with the most Harvard MBAs is IBM, with 254 LinkedIn members.

The number one industry for Harvard MBAs is finance, with 4,222 members. But number two is also a surprise of sorts: entrepreneurship. Some 2,959 LinkedIn members say they have an MBA from Harvard and have identified themselves as entrepreneurs. Business development is third with 2,687 LinkedIn members.

Harvard MBAs: Where They Work & What They Do


CompanyLinkedIn MembersIndustryLinkedIn Members
McKinsey & Co.507Finance4,222
Boston Consulting Group310Entrepreneur2,959
Bain & Co.262Consulting2,345
Goldman Sachs186Sales1,541
Microsoft173Information Technology930
Cisco Systems114Product772
Morgan Stanley102Human Resources671
Novartis81Public Relations510
Credit Suisse74Support335
Ernst & Young72Medical252
Bain Capital69Buyer131
PriceWaterhouseCoopers63Real Estate95
Merrill Lynch62
Booz & Co.61
Johnson & Johnson55

Source: December 2012 LinkedIn membership data

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Where Columbia MBAs Work & What They Do
Where MIT Sloan MBAs Work & What They Do
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  • prusd

    So does the capital go towards paying off their loans? Or does the VC capital go towards the business idea? Or both? I really don’t know. If VC’s will give capital to start a business and pay down MBA loans at the same time, that sounds great. That makes b-school much much more amenable for someone like me.

  • RV

    Interesting point..

  • John A. Byrne

    I actually cleaned that up already, eliminating the business school as an employer when it was among the top employers.

  • RV

    Thanks for the response, John.

  • Argh

    It’s because students put their school as their current employer in LinkedIn. Although there are probably some alumni working there, I suspect this would have been cleaned up for the data here.

  • JohnAByrne


    Good question. Wish I knew the answer. One of the problems with these search-generated lists of networking sites is that you almost get some odd result pop up. On the other hand, Stanford is a hard place to leave. The sway of those palm trees can have an impact on you. And the university also will likely show a preference for its own grads in hiring.

  • heyholetsgo

    I’d like to hear more about that too…

  • RV

    I have a question — on the Stanford post John said there are 131 Stanford grads working at Stanford. Here in the Harvard post — Harvard University is not even on the list as an employer. I find it strange that the biggest and most (arguably) prestigious school hardly employs its own MBA grads (at least according to the list) but Stanford employs 131 of its own grads! There is something that just quite doesn’t add up here. I’m hoping John might be able to sort this one out.

  • B-Schooler

    HBS grads, like Stanford GSB grads, have access to VCs who’ll give them capital. That’s how the do it.

  • Derk

    I mean total alumni to those active on linkedin

  • Derk

    I think it would be productive to provide a percentage breakdown of both total active these schools alumni to those active on linkedin, as well as percentage in each bracket. Harvard might have the most kids at McK, but percentage wise Wharton or both might have more. Also, Wharton might have more MBA’s active on linkedin-which can be interpreted in many ways (those at bigger firms more likely to be on linkedin, missing those at smaller, etc…),

  • prusd

    I’m still waiting for the Poets and Quants article on how MBA graduates actually become entrepreneurs after they graduate? I’d like to have an MBA and be a successful entrepreneur, but I’m terrified of the 100,000+ or so of loans? I guess the Harvard MBA grads are wealthier, received scholarships, or possess some superhuman gene that allows them to do whatever they want in life. Sigh…