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- Some CEOs started in entry-level positions at the companies they now lead.
- Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon loaded trucks at a Wal-Mart distribution center as a teenager.
- Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau started as a front desk receptionist at his local Planet Fitness.
- General Motors CEO Mary T. Barra started on the assembly line and became a co-op.
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While many millennials are known as "job-hoppers," some CEOs of today’s biggest companies started at the bottom and became top execs at the same company.
Some started in distribution centers, while others started their careers on the assembly line. After decades of career moves and changing titles, these people were named CEOs at the company they started at decades before.
From Wal-Mart to Fidelity, these are the CEOs who started at the bottom and worked their way to the top.
Mary T. Barra started on the assembly line at General Motors. Now, she’s the CEO and chairman of the auto company.
Eric Feferberg/ Getty
At 18 years old, Mary T. Barra got a job on the assembly line at General Motors, inspecting hoods and fenders. In 1980, Barra became a General Motors Institute co-op student in the Pontiac Motors Division. Over the next few decades, Barra rose in the ranks, taking on a number of titles, including vice president of global human resources and senior vice president of global product development. In 2014, Barra was named CEO of General Motors, and two years later, she became the chairman of the company.
"Some people are natural-born leaders," Barra told Esquire. "Some people can be great leaders with the right training. Some people are better as individual contributors. Looking at them from above, it’s very hard to tell who fits in what category. But the people who work for them can tell you."
Doug McMillon loaded trucks at a Wal-Mart distribution center as a teenager. Now, he’s the CEO of the retail company.
Gareth Patterson / AP Images
In 1984, high schooler Doug McMillon took a job loading trucks at a Wal-Mart distribution center so that he could earn money for college. At the time, he earned $6.50 an hour. Since then, he rose through the ranks at the company, taking on titles like assistant store manager, buyer in merchandising, and CEO of Sam’s Club. In 2014, he was named CEO of Wal-Mart.
"Having been here a long time, I think I had the feeling that I knew what responsibility felt like," McMillon told Fortune in 2015. "And then you move into the role and you find out there’s a whole ‘nother level of it."
Bob Iger started as a weatherman on a local ABC news station. Today, he is the CEO of the Walt Disney Company.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
In 1973, Rober Iger started his career as a weatherman at a news station in Ithaca, New York. He then moved to New York City where he became a studio facility supervisor at ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company. He then moved on to ABC Sports and later to the head of programming at ABC. In 2005, Iger was named CEO of the company.
"What I’ve really learned over time is that optimism is a very, very important part of leadership," Iger told the New York Times in 2009. "However, you need a dose of realism with it. People don’t like to follow pessimists."
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