Who Are the Most Powerful MIT Alumni?

by Jay London on December 13, 2013

in Alumni Life, In the News, Research

The concept of power is subjective, but according to Forbes, power centers on personal influence, sphere of influence, financial resources, and active use. The magazine also states that while there are 7.2 billion people on Earth, only 72 truly matter—the world’s most powerful people.

Mario Draghi . Image via Forbes

Mario Draghi PhD ’77. Image via Forbes.

This year, the magazine named Russia President Vladimir Putin to the top stop—the first time since 2010 that it is not occupied by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Among those 72 global power brokers (one slot for every 100 million people) are five MIT alumni. According to the magazine, their power is not fleeting—each alumnus was also named to the 2012 list.

Do the alumni named below merit mention among the world’s most powerful? Or is the idea of power too personal to formulate a 72-person list? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.


Ben Bernanke PhD ’79
, 7 (6 in 2012), chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve

“Bernanke has steered the Fed during some of the biggest financial challenges since the Depression. The former Princeton professor is credited with helping avert a global economic meltdown during late 2000′s, and jump-starting a still-moderate U.S. recovery.”

Mario Draghi, PhD ’77 9 (8), president, European Central Bank

“As chief banker of the world’s largest ­currency area–the euro zone’s collective GDP is now nearly $17 trillion–Draghi faces the Herculean task of trying to maintain financial unity across 17 countries.”

Benjamin Netanyahu ’75, SM ’76, 26 (23), prime minister, Israel

“PM of Israel since 2009, with a lengthy political career prior to that, Netanyahu is a central player in nearly every Middle Eastern crisis.”

Charles Koch ’57, SM ’58, SM ’60, 31 (41), CEO, Koch Industries
David Koch ’62, SM ’63, 31 (41), Executive Vice President, Koch Industries

“The world’s richest brothers head the nation’s second biggest private company with $115 billion in sales. Koch Industries owns firms that are involved in refinery, chemicals and financial trading, among many others.”

Earlier this year, Forbes released its list of 100 most powerful women and one MIT alumna was named to the list for the second consecutive year.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala MCP ’78, PhD ’81, 83 (81), minister of finance, Nigeria

“One year in office after a failed bid to for the World Bank presidency, Nigeria’s Harvard-educated finance minister produced a 6.5 percent increase in GDP from 2011 to 2012. Nigeria is the third largest economy in Africa with nearly $50 billion in foreign reserves.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Louis Cohen December 13, 2013 at 10:43 pm

In a way I’m sorry to see an alumna in the Nigerian cabinet. The country suffers from terrible governance including enormous corruption. As finance minister, she could make Nigeria’s oil revenue transparent and expose the scale of graft. But she hasn’t.

The Koch brothers are extreme, eat-the-poor, climate-change-denying right wingers.

OTOH, Ben Bernanke saved the world from another Great Depression, and Mario Draghi is holding the euro zone together by guaranteeing the debts of the countries in trouble.

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