Davide Dukcevich, 01.31.03, 12:00 PM ET
article originally posted on forbes.com
NEW YORK – Don’t be surprised if you see your company directors exchanging secret handshakes at the next board meeting. After all, about a quarter of all chief executives on the Forbes Super 500 list of America’s largest corporations were members of college fraternities.
Despite what movies such as Animal House suggest, fraternities and sororities are more than just freshman rush and beer busts. The social skills that help students gain admittance into the Greek system are the same aptitudes that can later give them a leg-up in corporate climbing. Plus, once they’ve graduated, they can tap into the network of past fraternity brothers or sisters who litter all tiers of corporate America.
Big Companies, Old School Ties
These are the ten-largest American companies with fraternity members at the helm. Click on the CEO names for their profiles.
Forbes 500 Rank Company CEO Fraternity
1 Citigroup (nyse: C – news – people ) Sanford Weill Alpha Epsilon Pi
4 American International Group (nyse: AIG – news – people ) Maurice Greenberg Sigma Alpha Mu
12 J.P. Morgan Chase (nyse: JPM – news – people ) William B. Harrison Jr. Zeta Psi
19 Goldman Sachs (nyse: GS – news – people ) Henry Paulson Sigma Alpha Epsilon
21 Procter & Gamble (nyse: PG – news – people ) Alan Lafley Psi Upsilon
24 Wachovia (nyse: WB – news – people ) G. Kennedy Thompson Beta Theta Pi
25 Berkshire Hathaway (nyse: BRKa – news – people ) Warren Buffett Alpha Sigma Phi
27 Home Depot (nyse: HD – news – people ) Robert Nardelli Tau Kappa Epsilon
28 BellSouth (nyse: BLS – news – people ) F. Duane Ackerman Lambda Chi Alpha
29 General Motors (nyse: GM – news – people ) G. Richard Wagoner Delta Tau Delta
Data from The North-American Interfraternity Conference and Forbes
The numbers certainly seem to back this theory up. A mere 8.5% of full-time university undergraduates are members of either a fraternity or a sorority. Not only have fraternities been the breeding ground of those 120 Forbes 500s chief executive officers, they also have spawned 48% of all U.S. presidents, 42% of U.S. senators, 30% of U.S. congressmen, and 40% of U.S. Supreme Court justices, according to data from The North-American Interfraternity Conference.
Best Fraternities For Future CEOs
Fraternity Members Who Are Forbes 500s CEOs
Beta Theta Pi 11
Sigma Alpha Epsilon 9
Sigma Chi 9
Lambda Chi Alpha 8
Alpha Tau Omega 7
Wachovia CEO G. Kennedy Thompson said that Beta Theta Pi, which he joined while an undergrad at the University of North Carolina, gave him “the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and places, and the connections have continued beyond my university years to my business life.”
He is also a member of the fraternity that produced the most CEOs among the biggest 500 companies in the country. Beta Theta Pi can boast of 11 such CEOs, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Chi are tied in second at nine, Lamba Chi Alpha has eight, and Alpha Tau Omega seven.