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23 Richest Engineers in the World | 2018 Edition

[Estimated read time: 12 minutes]

Engineers play an important role in the development of any society. Their innovations and efforts towards new technology helps 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 23 richest engineers in the world.

23. Otto Happel

Otto HappelImage credit: Spiegel

Reported Wealth: US$ 2.7 billion
Source: REA AG
Alma Matter: 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 PhD in engineering from RWTH Aachen University in 1974, he became the CEO of family business, which was initially started by his father five decades ago.

At the time he inherited the company it was small. It was Happel, who transformed the company into a global powerhouse in 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 GEA group to its various stakeholders and institution banks.

22. Baba Kalyani

Reported Wealth: US$ 2.7 billion
Source: Bharat Forge, Kalyani Group
Alma Matter: BITS Pilani, India and MIT, USA (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 2015, the company had reported annual revenue of US$ 1.2 billion.

21. German Khan

Reported Wealth: US$ 9.5 billion
Source: Alfa Eco, TNK-BP, LetterOne
Alma Matter: Kiev-Pedagogical College (Mechanical engineering)

German Borisovich Khan or simply German Khan became the president of Alfa-Eco, 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 US$ 56 billion, the largest energy deal in the history. He also co-founded LetterOne and L1 Energy along with his other business partners.

20. Thomas Kwok

Reported Wealth: US$ 11.1 billion
Source: Sun Hung Kai Properties
Alma Matter: 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. Vagit Alekperov

Reported Wealth: US$ 13.1 billion
Source: LUKoil
Alma Matter: 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 (former Soviet Union).

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.

18. Viktor Vekselberg

Reported Wealth: US$ 13.6 billion
Source: Renova Group
Alma Matter: Moscow State University of Railway Engineering

Viktor Vekselberg accelerated his business after Gorbachev administration removed heavy restrictions on private business in 1990. He founded NPO Komvek. With a fellow Russian Billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, he founded Renova Group. He strengthened his grip further in 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.

17. Gennady Timchenko


Reported Wealth: US$14 billion
Source: Volga Group
Alma Matter: 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 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.

16. Mikhail Fridman

Reported Wealth: US$ 14.6 billion
Source: Diversified, Alfa Group
Alma Matter: 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.

15. Vladimir Lisin

Reported Wealth: US$ 16.7 billion
Source: NLMK or Novolipetsk Steel
Alma Matter: 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 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. Azim Premji

Reported Wealth: US$18.3 billion
Source: Wipro Limited, PremjiInvest
Alma Matter: 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 bakery and essential body care, baby products and even to heavy machinery.

But in the 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 business and nested them into Wipro Enterprise limited.

13. Leonid Mikhelson

Reported Wealth: US$ 18.3 billion
Source: Novatek, SIBUR
Alma Matter: 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 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 as Novatek. He also holds a 57% stake in SIBUR and serves as the Chairmen of Boards of Directors of the company.

12. Leonard Blavatnik

Reported Wealth: US$ 20.5 billion
Source: Access Industries
Alma Matter: Moscow State University of Railway Engineering

Blavanik 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 i.e. 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 due to undergoing the immigration process at that time. Later in the United States, he enrolled at the Columbia University and received a masters degree in computer science.

11. Mukesh Ambani

Reported Wealth: US$ 47.6 billion
Source: Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)
Alma Matter: Institute of Chemical Technology (UDCT), India (Chemical Engineering)

For the last ten 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) have an annual revenue of US$ 51 billion (in 2017) and is one of the fortune 500 companies.

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, with an estimated worth of US$ 2 billion.

10. Sergey Brin

Reported Wealth: US$ 47.8 billion
Source: Alphabet Inc.
Alma Matter: 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. Here, 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 world of Internet with a web search engine. Brin is widely credited for developing data mining technique which they later used to develop Google.

9. Larry Page

Reported Wealth: US$ 49.1 billion
Source: Alphabet Inc.
Alma Matter: University of Michigan and Stanford University (Computer Engineering)

Alongside Sergey Brin, Larry Page founded Google, the flagship company of Alphabet Inc., which they established 17 years after Google first came into the existence. The duo met each other in the classrooms of the Stanford University while pursuing their honorary degrees. He is the inventor of Google’s most famous search ranking algorithm PageRank.

8. David Koch

Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage

Reported Wealth: US$50.7 billion
Source: Koch Industries
Alma Matter: 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 bachelor and master degree in chemical engineering. In 2013, he became the wealthiest resident of New York City with an estimated net worth of $47.7 billion.

7. Charles Koch

Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT

Reported Wealth: US$50.7 billion
Source: Koch Industries
Alma Matter: 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 in 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 degree in general engineering, Master of Science in mechanical engineering. He is considered as one of the world’s top richest persons with an estimated net worth of $47.7 billion.

6. Michael Bloomberg

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Reported Wealth: US$ 51.6 billion
Source: Bloomberg L.P
Alma Matter: Johns Hopkins University (Electrical Engineering)

Michael Bloomberg is an American politician, businessman and the 108th Mayer of the New York City. He founded the 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 working there as a securities broker.

It took him almost ten years to establish his own company, which was initially named Innovative Market Systems, but was changed once the business gained pace. His company launched their trademark Bloomberg Terminal in the 1980s, which by 2015 crossed 325,000 annual subscribers worldwide.

5. Bernard Arnault

Reported Wealth: US$ 65.7 billion
Source: LVMH, Louis Vuitton
Alma Matter: 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 engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnic. He controls some of the most famous internationally known luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Cristian Dior.

4 Carlos Slim Helu

Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg 

Reported Wealth: US$ 68.6 billion
Source: Grupo Carso, Diversified
Alma Matter: 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.

Read: 14 of the Wealthiest Families In the World

3. Mark Zuckerberg

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Reported Wealth: US$ 74.9 billion
Source: Facebook Corporation
Alma Matter: Harvard University (Honorary)

At the age of 33, he is currently the youngest billionaire on the planet. He started the Facebook from his dorms of the 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 company’s IPO, spiked his total worth like never before. Recently, in 2017, he was awarded with the honorary degree from Harvard after dropping out of the collage in the second year of his engineering course.


2. Bill Gates

Reported Wealth: US$ 93.5 billion
Source: Microsoft Corporation, Cascade Investments, Berkshire Hathaway
Alma Matter: Harvard Collage (Honorary)

Bill Gates, after 42 years since his iconic company Microsoft was first mentioned on any paper, remained one of the most influential personality in technology sector.

Even though he didn’t complete his graduation at the Harvard University, his extraordinary works in the field of computer sciences led him to gain the honorary degree. Who knows what we might have had now if Bill Gates hadn’t left his education and pursue his dream of owning a company one day?

1. Jeff Bezos

Reported Wealth: US$ 160.5 billion
Source: Amazon Inc.
Alma Matter: Princeton University (electrical engineering and computer science)

At last, we have reached the climax of our list, but the same cannot be said about this man. Before creating his internet based company Amazon, Jeff Bezos worked on Wall Street with many different companies. He started with Fitel, a telecommunication company then the Bankers Trust to develop their networking architecture. His last job was at D. E. Shaw & Co as a technical engineer.

Read: 20 Most Successful Investors In The World

Today, Amazon.com Inc. is the largest online retail company in the world and 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 market capitalization.

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