Engineers play an important role in the development of any society. Their innovations and efforts towards new technology help make our life more enjoyable and comfortable.
Since that’s the case, good engineers are always in demand, which leads many of them to become extremely wealthy. But not all of them become billionaires. Do they?
Being a billionaire is something different and to be one you have to do something extraordinary. In this list, we have accumulated those engineers who did something extraordinary to become what they are now. Presenting the richest engineers in the world.
Table of Contents
24. Baba Kalyani
Reported Wealth: $2.3 billion
Source: Bharat Forge, Kalyani Group
Alma Mater: BITS Pilani (India), and MIT (Mechanical Engineering)
Kalyani Group is perhaps one of the biggest conglomerate companies in the world. The company was started by Nilkanthrao Kalyani, a notable industrialist in India. After his death, his son Baba Kalyani, an MIT scholar became the chairman of the global company. Currently, he is also heading Bharat Forge, the flagship company of Kalyani Group. In 2018, the company had reported an annual revenue of $750 million.
23. Otto Happel
Image credit: Spiegel
Reported Wealth: $2.8 billion
Source: REA AG
Alma Mater: RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Otto Happel is a German-born business magnate and billionaire who previously owned a global equipment and technology provider GEA group. After completing his Ph.D. in engineering from RWTH Aachen University in 1974, he became the CEO of a family business, which was initially started by his father five decades ago.
The company was small when he took over. It was Happel, who transformed the company into a global powerhouse in the food processing and electrical appliance industry. Under him, the company made over 70 different acquisitions, which resulted in more than 200 company outlets in over 60 nations. From 1999 to 2006, he sold all his stakes in the GEA group to its various stakeholders and institution banks.
22. Azim Premji
Reported Wealth: $7.1 billion
Source: Wipro Limited, PremjiInvest
Alma Mater: Stanford University, USA (Electrical Engineering)
Azim Premji took over his father’s food and cooking oil business after his death in 1966. At that time he was a fresh graduate from Stanford University. The company, which he inherited (Western India Products Limited) was initially dealing in edible oil manufacturing and was later expanded to the bakery and essential body care, baby products, and even heavy machinery.
But in 1980, the dynamic young businessman foresaw the world of new opportunities in the field of Information Technology and entered into the tech sector by initially manufacturing microcomputers which gradually expanded to software production and tech consulting firm. By 2013, the company announced the demerger of all non-IT businesses and nested them into Wipro Enterprise limited.
21. German Khan
Reported Wealth: $10.7 billion
Source: Alfa Eco, TNK-BP, LetterOne
Alma Mater: Kiev-Pedagogical College (Mechanical engineering)
German Borisovich Khan became the president of Alfa-Eco, the Russian wholesale trade business in 1966. He also briefly served as the deputy chairman of TNK oil company after its acquisition by Alfa Group.
TNK-BP was taken over by Rosneft in 2013, for nearly $56 billion, the largest energy deal in history. He also co-founded LetterOne and L1 Energy along with his other business partners.
20. Thomas Kwok
Reported Wealth: $11.7 billion
Source: Sun Hung Kai Properties
Alma Mater: Imperial College London, London (Civil Engineering)
Since 1990 Thomas Kwok along with his two brothers, Walter and Raymond Kwok managed the entire Sun Hung Kai Properties, the largest real estate firm in Hong Kong and one of the most valuable companies in the world, until 2010, when the eldest Kwok, Walter stepped down from his position as the CEO and ultimately left the company.
In 2012, he faced serious conspiracy charges, which were proved in 2014. He was found guilty of “conspiracy to commit crime in public operations.” Currently, he is waiting for a five-year sentence to be over in jail.
19. Viktor Vekselberg
Reported Wealth: $12.2 billion
Source: Renova Group
Alma Mater: Moscow State University of Railway Engineering
Viktor Vekselberg accelerated his business after the Gorbachev administration removed heavy restrictions on private business in 1990. He founded NPO Komvek. With a fellow Russian Billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, he founded the Renova Group.
He strengthened his grip further in the mineral industry under the Yeltsin administration as he co-founded the Siberian-Urals Aluminium Company. Years later he gained majority stakes in TNK, the largest oil company in Russia.
18. Mikhail Fridman
Reported Wealth: $16.8 billion
Source: Diversified, Alfa Group
Alma Mater: Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys (metallurgical engineering)
Mikhail Fridman after graduating from high school attended the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1981. Two years after becoming a certified engineer, in 1988, he established an apartment rental business for foreigners.
In the same year, along with future billionaires German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichov, he founded Alfa-Eco. Currently, Fridman is the second richest person in Russia owning majority stakes in Alfa Group, LetterOne, and newly formed L1 energy.
17. Leonard Blavatnik
Reported Wealth: $19.3 billion
Source: Access Industries
Alma Mater: Moscow State University of Railway Engineering
Leonard Blavatnik established his Access Industries in New York in 1986, 10 years after migrating from the Soviet Union. His holding company has major stakes in different companies in all major sectors including entertainment, metal industry, oil and gas industry, and chemical industry. One of the most famous acquisitions by Access Industries was that of Warner Music Group in 2011.
Even though Blavatnik went to the State University of Railway Engineering, he was not able to complete his term because he was going through an immigration process at that time. Later in the United States, he enrolled at Columbia University and received a master’s degree in computer science.
16. Gennady Timchenko
AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA
Reported Wealth: $22 billion
Source: Volga Group
Alma Mater: Mechanical Institute of St. Petersburg (Electrical engineer)
After completing his graduation in 1976, Timchenko started his engineering career by working for a plant near St. Petersburg. His abilities as an excellent engineer and a little luck boosted his career as he quickly became a senior engineer working for the Ministry of Foreign Trade.
In 1991, he joined a Finish company where he started as the first deputy and then became the CEO. In 2007, he founded Gunvor, a successful commodity trading company based in Cyprus. Years later, Timchenko established a private investment company Volga Group. His company holds major stakes in some of the largest firms in Russia, including Novatek, Sibur, and Petromir.
15. Vladimir Lisin
Reported Wealth: $23.8 billion
Source: NLMK or Novolipetsk Steel
Alma Mater: Siberian Metallurgic Institute (diploma in metallurgical engineering)
The Russian steel mogul and billionaire Vladimir Lisin is the majority stakeholder in one of the three biggest steel companies in Russia, NLMK or Novolipetsk. He kick-started his career working as a welder foreman in a local metal works firm.
It was only in the year 2000 when Lisin became the sole owner of the company after working there nearly for a decade. He also has small stakes in Volga Shipping Company and Federal Grid Company (UES).
14. Vagit Alekperov
Reported Wealth: $24.7 billion
Alma Mater: Azerbaijan State Oil and Industrial University
Vagit Alekperov started his career as a drilling operator in a local production company in the Caspian region. After working with several companies in Russia from 1979 to 1990, he was appointed deputy minister of the Oil and Gas Industry of Russia.
As the deputy minister, he formed the first-ever vertically integrated state-owned oil and gas company Langepas-Uray-Kogalymneft in 1991, under the Ministry of Fuel and Energy. The company’s name was soon changed to LUKoil and Alekperov became its president. In recent valuations, Lukoil became the second-largest oil company in Russia only after Rosneft.
13. Leonid Mikhelson
Reported Wealth: $26.5 billion
Source: Novatek, SIBUR
Alma Mater: Samara Institute of Civil Engineering, Russia
Leonid Mikhelson completed his formal education in engineering from the Samara Institute in 1977. Although he initially started as a foreman at a construction company, his expertise in the field landed him on the post of Managing Director at the Novafinivest and its subsidiary, which was later renamed Novatek. He also holds a 57% stake in SIBUR and serves as the Chairmen of Boards of Directors of the company.
12. David Koch
Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage
Reported Wealth: $40 billion
Source: Koch Industries
Alma Mater: MIT (Chemical Engineering)
David Koch is an American business tycoon and currently the vice president of Koch Industries, one of the ten largest private companies in the world. In 2008, a magazine described him as one of the most generous American philanthropists.
He went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering. In 2013, he became the wealthiest resident of New York City with an estimated net worth of $47.7 billion.
11. Charles Koch
Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT
Reported Wealth: $45 billion
Source: Koch Industries
Alma Mater: MIT (Nuclear engineering)
Charles Koch is the elder brother of David Koch and currently serves as the CEO of Koch industries. Even though he was born into a wealthy family, he faced many struggles in the early years. In an interview, Charles described how badly his father wanted him to work hard, like the most deprived person in the world. He holds a bachelor’s degree in general engineering and a Master of Science in mechanical engineering.
10. Michael Bloomberg
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Reported Wealth: $56.1 billion
Source: Bloomberg L.P
Alma Mater: Johns Hopkins University (Electrical Engineering)
Michael Bloomberg is an American politician, businessman, and the 108th Mayer of New York City. He founded Bloomberg L.P., a financial data and Media Company. After completing his graduation in engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 1964 and an MBA from Harvard Business School, he started his Wall Street career at Solomon Brothers as a securities broker.
It took him almost ten years to establish his own company, which was initially named Innovative Market Systems, but it was changed once the business gained pace. His company launched its trademark Bloomberg Terminal in the 1980s, which by 2015 crossed 325,000 annual subscribers worldwide.
9. Carlos Slim Helu
Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg
Reported Wealth: $62.6 billion
Source: Grupo Carso, Diversified
Alma Mater: National Autonomous University of Mexico (Civil Engineering)
Carlos Slim is a Mexican businessman, investor, and philanthropist. He remained the richest person on earth from 2010 to 2013 until Bill gates took over that position. Currently, he is the Chairman and CEO of Telmex, America Movil, Samsung Mexico through his investment firm Grupo Carso.
8. Sergey Brin
Reported Wealth: $75.7 billion
Source: Alphabet Inc.
Alma Mater: University of Maryland and Stanford University (Computer Engineering)
At the age of 6, Sergey Brin along with his family immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union. He enrolled at the University of Maryland to study Mathematics and Computer Science.
It was during his time at Stanford University, he met his business partner and fellow billionaire Larry Page, both of whom changed the way how the internet works with a web search engine. Brin is widely credited for developing data mining techniques which they later used to develop Google.
7. Mukesh Ambani
Reported Wealth: $76.3 billion
Source: Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)
Alma Mater: Institute of Chemical Technology (UDCT), India (Chemical Engineering)
For the last twelve years, Mukesh Ambani has remained the wealthiest person in India. His Reliance Industries (not to be confused with Reliance Group, which is owned by his brother Anil Ambani) garnered a staggering annual revenue of $60 billion in 2018, making one of the biggest jumps in the Fortune 500 ranking (from 203 to 148).
The company was initially founded by his father Dhirubhai Ambani in the early 1960s, for which young Mukesh had to leave his MBA midway after completing his graduation in chemical engineering from an Indian institute. Since 2014, he and his family are living in ‘Antilla’, the world’s most expensive house that costs nearly $2 billion.
6. Larry Page
Reported Wealth: $77.3 billion
Source: Alphabet Inc.
Alma Mater: University of Michigan and Stanford University (Computer Engineering)
Alongside Sergey Brin, Larry Page founded Google, the flagship company of Alphabet Inc., which they established 21 years. The duo met each other in the classrooms of Stanford University while pursuing their honorary degrees. He is the inventor of Google’s most famous search ranking algorithm PageRank.
5. Mark Zuckerberg
Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Reported Wealth: $101.9 billion
Source: Facebook Corporation
Alma Mater: Harvard University (Honorary)
At the age of 34, he is currently the youngest person to accumulate this much wealth. He started Facebook from his dorms of Harvard University along with Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and two other college friends.
It was all for fun until Zuckerberg decided to expand it to other schools and universities. Six years after moving to Palo Alto, California, Facebook reported that they have a 500 million user base.
He reached a billion mark in 2008 and four years later, the company’s IPO spiked his total worth like never before. In 2017, he was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard after dropping out of college in the second year of his engineering course.
4. Bill Gates
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, remains one of the most influential personalities in the technology sector.
Even though he didn’t complete his graduation at Harvard University, his extraordinary works in the field of computer sciences led him to gain an honorary degree. After leaving Microsoft, Gates pursued numerous philanthropic endeavors. So far, he has donated more than $35 billion to various scientific research programs and charitable organizations through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
3. Bernard Arnault
Reported Wealth: $142.7 billion
Source: LVMH, Louis Vuitton
Alma Mater: École Polytechnique, France
Bernard Arnault is a French businessman and the chairman and CEO of LVMH, a multinational luxury goods company. He holds a bachelor’s engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnic. Arnault controls some of the most famous internationally known luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Cristian Dior.
2. Elon Musk
Reported Wealth: $152.4 billion
Source: Tesla and SpaceX
Alma Mater: University of Pennsylvania
Elon Reeve Musk became a multimillionaire in this late 20s when sold his startup, Zip2, to Compaq. He received $22 million for his 7% share from the sale.
He is currently working to revolutionize transportation both on Earth (via Tesla) and in space (through SpaceX). He holds approximately 20% in Tesla, and SpaceX is worth over $46 billion.
He is also the co-founder of Neuralink (a neurotechnology company that develops implantable brain-machine interfaces), The Boring Company (infrastructure and tunnel construction services company), and OpenAI (a company that aims to promote and develop friendly artificial intelligence in a way that benefits humanity as a whole).
1. Jeff Bezos
Reported Wealth: $176.4 billion
Source: Amazon Inc.
Alma Mater: Princeton University (electrical engineering and computer science)
Entrepreneur and e-commerce pioneer Jeff Bezos decided to quit his finance career in 1994 to pursue his dream. Before creating his internet-based company Amazon, Bezos worked on Wall Street with many different companies.
He started with Fitel, a telecommunication company, then switched to the Bankers Trust to develop their networking architecture. His last job was at D. E. Shaw & Co as a technical engineer.
What started as an online bookstore is now the largest online retail company in the world. After outperforming Walmart in 2015, Amazon became the largest retailer by market capitalization in the United States. In September 2018, Amazon became the second company in the world (after Apple) to reach $1 trillion in market capitalization.