In a male-dominated sector, female business professionals are to further their education to at least undergraduate degree level to climb the ladder in top organisations, according to a closer look at the Forbes Billionaires 2018 List.

The analysis, (available at aims to shed light on the correlation between higher education and wealth generation among the world’s top entrepreneurs.

Key Findings

  • Looking at the top ten men and top ten women on Forbes’ list of the world’s most successful billionaires, 60% of men and 80% of women graduated with at least an undergraduate degree.
  • Three of Forbes’ top ten female billionaires are MBA-educated, compared to none of the top ten male billionaires.
  • 50% of males studied an engineering discipline before embarking on their entrepreneurial careers, while 40% of females chose to study business or economics.
  • All of the top ten female billionaires inherited their wealth, while seven of the top ten males built their business from scratch.

Investigating the correlation between business acumen and higher education, the study delves into the secrets behind financial triumph and whether business savviness is something you are simply born with or learn with experience. Women entrepreneurs, it appears, continue in the education system for longer than their male counterparts in order to progress in their careers – Four out of the top ten male billionaires left education before degree level, in contrast to three of the ten female billionaires continuing to MBA level.

While the Forbes’ list would suggest that a University education is essential for career success – 70% of the top 20 billionaires have a degree – this represents just a fraction of the business world as a whole.

Hiscox spoke to members of the Hiscox Business Club[1] – a group of successful small-to-medium business owners based in York – for their thoughts on the value of higher education and the state of the education system today. All respondents have completed a degree and while the majority see benefits in the university experience, only 50% believe it helped with their business, while the other 50% feel they gained no applicable knowledge. None of those interviewed felt that returning to higher education would benefit their business.

Paul Ward, Director of Telo Group, a property development company based in East Riding, suggests that business acumen is innate: “You can’t teach that entrepreneurial drive needed for business success. But if a person has it within them, it can be encouraged, nurtured and coaxed out.”

In a similar vein, Mark Bewick, Creative Director of hospitality marketing agency NIMA, doesn’t see a university education as a prerequisite to succeeding in business: “Running your own business is such a unique experience and not something that education can really prepare you for. Sure, you can gain the necessary qualifications and skills, but that’s just a small part of the journey.” 

In contrast, Stuart Priest, Director of Circus Skills York CIC, has no regrets about staying in the education system: “Going to university when I came from a working-class family and when only 5% of the school population could go felt like a huge privilege. My working life has continued to be an education.”

To find out more about the analysis, please visit:

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.