AIB Featured Business Leader – Bill Gates
Commonly labelled as the ‘World’s Richest Man’, Bill Gates is a name that most households have heard. Born in Seattle in 1955, Gates experienced a rather normal childhood, attending a public elementary school, followed by a private high school. Where he stands out however is his keen interest in software and programming computers which began at the tender age of 13. From there, Gates enrolled in Harvard University, but left in his junior year to dedicate his time to building Microsoft with Paul Allen, his childhood friend. In 1975 the company was officially established with Gates as the first CEO. After several partnerships permitted the company enter overseas business, Microsoft officially ‘went public’ in 1986.
Under the guidance of Gates, Microsoft has grown into the multibillion dollar organisation that it is today. According to the Microsoft website, it is Gates’ leadership which has made it the ‘worldwide leader in software, services and solutions’. The mission of Microsoft is to continually advance and improve software technology, and whilst Gates took a step back from the organisation in 2008, he continues to serve on the board of directors and as an advisor on key development projects, ensuring the company continues on the right path.
Along this journey, Gates has shared countless words of wisdom, many of which are important for leaders to understand and future leaders to consider. For example he said, ‘as we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others’. He also teaches us that ‘your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning’. These are two important business lessons which MBA students can take away from Gates’ success and apply into their own career. Empowering others is a critical component of being a great leader, and ensuring your product meets customers’ expectations if crucial to the success of your business.
Aside from his work with Microsoft, Gates and his wife Melinda established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1994 ‘to help reduce the inequities in the US and around the world’. Despite their profound wealth, Bill and Melinda have focussed philanthropy in the area of global health and learning with the ‘hope that in the 21st century, advances in these critical areas will be available to all people’. In addition, Gates has written a couple of business technology books such as ‘Business @ The Speed of Thought’, and donated all proceeds to not-for-profit organisations that support the use of technology in education.
It is clear that Bill Gates has had a very admirable career thus far and continues to inspire leaders around the world with his charitable efforts. I am curious though, what do you admire most about Bill Gates? Or alternatively, is there another business leader that you would like to see featured on the blog? Feel free to share your views in a comment!
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Microsoft, Forbes Magazine, Brainy Quote and Inventing Answers.