Military veterans who became Fortune 500 CEOs

US veterans have led a variety of companies from P&G and Anhuser-Busch to Lockheed Martin and the Campbell Soup Company

For decades, members of the armed forces have traded in their uniforms for corporate suits. A handful of them have even climbed their way to the top of Fortune 500 companies.  

Many are highly qualified for executive roles because they are trained to adapt quickly and make informed decisions in highly stressful environments, Eric Eversole, Hiring Our Heroes president and a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told FOX Business.

"Critical skills like leadership, problem-solving, and the ability to work under pressure while handling challenges that are often outside of your control are cultivated in the armed forces," Eversole said. "I can’t think of a better training ground for a CEO than the U.S. military." 

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Here are 10 current and former CEOs who have served in the U.S. military: 

Alex Gorsky

Alex Gorsky,

Alex Gorsky, chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson, testifies on the stand at Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.  (Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Alex Gorsky was the chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson from 2012 to January 2022. 

After graduating the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Gorksy served six years in the Army and even earned the rank of captain, the Ranger tab and Airborne wings, according to Johnson & Johnson. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JNJ JOHNSON & JOHNSON 162.12 +0.74 +0.46%

Brendan Whitworth 

Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth (Anheuser-Busch)

Brendan Whitworth became the chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch in July 2021 after serving with the company since 2013. However, well before his corporate days, he attended Officer Candidates School, where graduation candidates are commissioned as officers in the United States Marine Corps. 

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From 1998 to 2001, he served as a first lieutenant in the Marines. For the next five years, he served as an operations officer for the CIA's counterterrorism center.

Mark Clouse 

Mark Clouse

Mark Clouse, the president and chief executive officer of the Campbell Soup Company. (Campbell Soup Company)

Mark Clouse became the CEO of the Campbell Soup Company in January 2019. He is the 14th leader in the company's more than 150-year history.

Long before jumping into the food industry, he served in the United States Army as a pilot, eventually completing his service as a captain, according to Campbell. 

He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 

James D. Taiclet

James D. Taiclet

James D. Taiclet, CEO of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. (Lockheed Martin Corporation)

James "Jim" Taiclet has been the chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corp. since June 2020. 

Taiclet started his career as a U.S. Air Force officer and pilot. According to Lockheed Martin, he logged over 5,000 flying hours as an aircraft commander, instructor pilot and unit chief of Standardization and Evaluation.  

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He was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and later earned a master's degree at Princeton University.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LMT LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP. 426.46 -1.78 -0.42%

Former CEO of Lockheed Martin, Robert J. Stevens, who sat at the helm of the company from August 2004 through December 2012, also served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years, according to Lockheed Martin. 

Frederick W. Smith 

Fred Smith

Former Fedex CEO Fred Smith is pictured at a business roundtable meeting of company leaders and U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Washington, on June 13, 2012.  (Reuters/Jason Reed / Reuters)

The founder and former CEO of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, was an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before he started the package service company.

Before he started FedEx in 1973, Smith did four years of service in the Marines, which included two tours of duty in Vietnam.

He stepped down as CEO of FedEx in June 2022 after growing the company into a global enterprise for nearly 50 years. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
FDX FEDEX CORP. 246.60 -2.37 -0.95%

Ken Hicks

Ken Hicks

Ken Hicks is the CEO of Academy Sports.  (Ken Hicks Official)

Ken C. Hicks has served as the CEO of Academy Sports, a sporting goods and apparel company, since May 2018. Before that, he spent five years sitting at the helm of Foot Locker. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
FL FOOT LOCKER INC. 34.60 +0.17 +0.49%

Hicks graduated from West Point and served in the U.S. Army, according to Academy. He also received his MBA from Harvard Business School. 

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Scott Wine

Scott Wine

Scott Wine, chairman and chief executive officer of Polaris Industries Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015.  (Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Scott Wine has been the CEO of CNH Industrial, a global capital goods company, since January 2021, according to US Bancorp. Prior to that, he was the CEO of Polaris Industries Inc. since September 2008. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
CNHI CNH INDUSTRIAL NV 12.05 +0.10 +0.88%
PII POLARIS INC. 93.46 +0.75 +0.81%

Wine has also held roles at defense companies including United Technologies Corporation, Danaher Corp. and Allied Signal Corp., which became Honeywell International, Inc. 

Wine is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and an MBA from the University of Maryland. He serves on the boards of U.S. Bancorp and the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation.

Sumner Redstone

Sumner Redstone

Sumner Redstone. (Mario Ruiz/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

The late Sumner Redstone was the former chairman and CEO of National Amusements, which eventually took control of Viacom in 1996, and CBS in 2000. The companies now operate as ViacomCBS. 

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Redstone died in 2020 at the age of 97. However, during his early career, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II, cracking Japanese military codes, according to reports. 

Robert A. McDonald

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald makes remarks on Veterans Day in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Robert A. McDonald served as the CEO of Procter & Gamble for four years until retiring in 2013. However, he had been with the company for over three decades. 

In 2014, President Barack Obama tapped McDonald to become the secretary of Veterans Affairs. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
PG PROCTER & GAMBLE CO. 158.83 +0.13 +0.08%

McDonald is a graduate of West Point and served in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Airborne Division, according to his website.

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James A. Skinner

James Skinner

James A. Skinner, vice chairman and chief executive officer of McDonald's Corp., speaks during a news conference following the company's annual meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois, on Wednesday, May 27, 2009.  (Photo by Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

James A. Skinner is the former executive chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and former CEO of McDonald's Corporation. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WBA WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE INC. 21.49 +0.23 +1.08%
MCD MCDONALD'S CORP. 290.73 -1.55 -0.53%

He served in the U.S. Navy for almost 10 years, including during the Vietnam War, according to Veterans Advantage.