10 Harvard Graduates Who Failed in Business dramatically
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Harvard graduates have always been known as highly successful persons. But what if i tell you that it’s not always true?

We have always, in School or college life, been taught to observe failure as “a prospect to learn and grow”.

Some of the involvements that we go through in our lives (predominantly the bad ones)–often turn out to be blessings in cover.

Today, I will present a list of 10 Harvard Graduates who failed in business dramatically. They either were dismissed from their jobs or experienced multiple hindrances and failures in their business.



     1. Jeffrey Skilling

jeffrey skilling harvard graduate

Jeffrey Skilling was the CEO of the energy company Enron, which was a high profile corporate failure.  

He later formed the basis of Corporate Governance for the companies and was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud and insider trading.

Mr. Skilling, was born on 25th of November 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He got his MBA from Harvard University before working with the firm “McKinsey”.

He joined the staff of the energy company Enron in 1990. And then in a few months would become chief operating officer and then CEO, employed with Kenneth Lay.

The court of justice found both Skilling and Lay guilty of massive fraud about the 2001 collapse of the company.


     2. Bill Ackman

bill ackman harvard graduate

William Albert aka “Bill” Ackman (Havard graduated born 11th of May, 1966), is an American hedge-fund manager.

He is the forefather and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, a hedge-fund management company.

In 1988, he got a bachelor of arts graduation magna cum laude in history from Harvard College. Also in 1992, he got an MBA degree from Harvard Business School

In 1992, Ackman created the venture company Gotham Partners with fellow Harvard alumna David P. Berkowitz. This outlay firm made small investments in public companies.

In 1995, Ackman amalgamated with the real estate and insurance firm Leucadia National to tender for Rockefeller Center.

Even though they did not win the deal, the high-profile nature of the tender caused investors to congregate to Gotham Partners. They grew it to $500 million in assets by 1998.

In 2002, Ackman started winding the business down of Gotham Partners. This had become embedded in litigation with various outside stockholders.

Those stockholders also owned an interest in the same companies in which Gotham capitalized.


      3. Marc Stuart Dreier

marc stuart dreier harvard graduated

Marc Stuart Dreier is a Havard graduated who was born on 12 May, 1950. He is an ex-American solicitor who was penalized to 20 years in federal jail in 2009 for committing investment fraud using a Ponzi scheme.

He was the only equity partner of the dissolved law firm Dreier, LLP. Dreier operated like a corporation and not as a partnership.
More than 200 creditors have funneled a total of more than $450 million in claims.

As a result, Eton Park Capital Management seeks over $84 million. Also, Fortress Credit Opportunities, part of Fortress Investment Group, has filed a $61.9 million unsecured claim. Ex-law partner Bruce F. Bronster is seeking $767,000 and entertainment attorney Lisa Bonner is claiming $448,365.


     4. Viktor Kožený

viktor kožený harcard graduated

Viktor Kožený (born 28 June, 1963 in Prague) is a Czech-born fugitive financier.

According to Bloomberg News, he graduated from Harvard in 1989 with a bachelor’s grade in economics.
However, he cannot be located in the Harvard Alumni Directory as of 2015. Viktor Kožený is officially an Irish resident imprisoned in the Bahamas in 2005 but released in 2007.

During the voucher denationalization, Czech state assets were thought to be handed over to Czech citizens through a system of coupons.

That coupon could then be used to buy shares in businesses. However mutual funds were originated, most successfully the one started by Kožený, Harvard Capital and Accessing (which has no affiliation with Harvard University).

Soon, thousands of Czechs were signing over their voucher books to “Harvard”, who promised a 100% rate of return on investment.

Harvard Funds bought shares in some companies, unprotected assets and relocated the money overseas to offshore tax havens like the Bahamas.

This swindle turned out to be a huge success for Kožený and those at work with him, who allegedly stole loads of dollars from investors in his fund.


     5. Chas Lee

Lee, in his low-grade year at Harvard at the time, co-chaired with corresponding student David Sword a contributions ice-skating event run by The Jimmy Deposit.

The two used the event’s funds for themselves: Lee, $120,000 and Sword, $6800. The embezzlement was exposed when they passed their positions on to new students, who were unable to resolve the fund’s books.


     6. William Pickard

william pickard harvard graduates

William Pickard (10th of February 1921 to 21st of October 1987) was a Harvard Graduate British trade unionist.

Pickard and Thomas Halliday became precarious of Macdonald’s cautious approach to trade unionism.  

They also initiated a new Incorporated Association of Miners (AAM), with Pickard as financial officer. This new relationship advocated more militant action, including commonality strikes, but sustained to co-operate with the MNA, and even greeted Mcdonald to speak at its conferences.

The AAM was initially fruitful, growing across Great Britain and captivating several strikes, which inspired Pickard to stand as a Liberal-Labour applicant in Wigan at the 1874 UK general election, taking the fourth place of five candidates.

The AAM was suffering from monetary difficulties and so, in 1875, merged back into the MNA. Pickard after that withdrew from national trade unionism, but remained an agent of the Wigan miners and was noticeable in leading rescue efforts and organizing compensation after a mining accident. 


     7. Eugene Plotkin

eugene plotkin harvard graduate

Eugene Plotkin was employees of the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Shpigelman provided Pajčin and Plotkin with tips on upcoming mergers and acquisitions in return for payoffs.

The Reebok insider transaction case was an insider dealing scheme that took place in 2004 and 2005.

It tangled tips from a Merrill Lynch venture banker, private info from Business Week and a grand jury member, and trades by folks in both the United States and Europe.

The trades were largely orchestrated by David Pajčin, an ex-Goldman Sachs trader who was subsequently ordered to pay nearly $28 million in fines and judgments by the SEC.


     8. Richard Whitney

richard whitney harvard graduate

While Richard Whitney was a brilliant financier. He in fact had generally been involved with hypothetical investments in a variety of businesses and had continued substantial losses.

To stay afloat, he began borrowing heavily from his family member George as well as other well-off friends. And after finding loans from as many people as he could,  he turned to misappropriation to cover his increasing business losses and maintain his exaggerated lifestyle.

He stole funds from the New York Stock Exchange Gratuity Fund, the New York Yacht Club (where he served as the Treasurer), and $800,000 worth of bonds from his father-in-law’s estate.


     9. Steven Spielberg

steven spielberg harvard graduate

Steven Spielberg was rejected both times he filed applications to attend film school at University of Southern California (USC). But that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most successful man of the American film industry.

Spielberg luck, however, didn’t go well in his first movies but he kept trying and got successful.

He has now grossed $8.5 billion from films he directed.

And after Spielberg had become famous, USC awarded him an honorary degree, and Spielberg later became a trustee of the University.


     10. Jack Canfield

jack canfield harvard graduated

Jack Canfield was overruled 144 times before he found a producer for his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul.

When Jack told the producer he wanted to sell 1.5 million files in the first 18 months, the publisher giggled and said he’d be fortunate to sell 20,000.

That first book sold more than 8 million photocopies in America and 10 million copies around the world. Canfield’s book trademark is nowadays a $1 Billion Trademark.

Canfield’s advice:
“So the truth is that you just have to say, ‘I’m more committed to my dream than I’m committed to your uncertainty or my fear,’ and just go for it…” (From Conversations with Top Achievers by Woody Woodward)



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Ayl Dhybass

Entrepreneur / Founder of SmartYourBiz (Online Business Training) "I'm passionate about Graphic, Web & App Design, Bodybuilding, Football and Foreign Languages."

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Smithc192

    Merely a smiling visitor here to share the love , btw outstanding style. Audacity, a lot more audacity and always audacity. by Georges Jacques Danton.

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