What 7 Successful CEOs Did Way Before They Were CEOs

From bus driver or vacuum cleaner salesman, can you guess who's who?


While the CEOs of our favourite companies are today known for their immense success, for anyone just starting out on their business venture (or getting to the stage when you’re starting out), it’s comforting to know they weren’t born into the world that way.

Everyone has to start somewhere, including the big bosses, and it may be surprising to learn that some of these starts weren’t quite so glamorous. They were however, integral in instilling drive, determination and work ethic in our corporate leaders. Here are the first jobs of seven influential CEOs:


Reed Hastings – Netflix

‘Netflix and chill’ would just be ‘chill’ if it weren’t for Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of the popular video streaming service. His first job however was slightly more modest – a vacuum cleaner salesman.

“I loved it, strange as that might sound,” Hastings has said of his first gig. “You get to meet a lot of different people.”


Elizabeth Anne Macgregor – Museum of Contemporary Art

Scottish-born Elizabeth Anne Macgregor got her big break in the art world as a bus driver for the Scottish Arts Council’s travelling gallery. It was on the road that she became enamored with the process of connecting art and audiences, leading her to eventually become the award-winning Director of Sydney’s MCA that she is today.


David Rusenko – Weebly

Now CEO of website building platform Weebly, David Rusenko was just 13 years old when he began constructing websites, giving him a solid foothold in the industry.

“Luckily enough, building websites turned out to be a full time gig for me, but it was also part of that experience that led me to build Weebly and make the complicated process as simple as possible for people who know zero code,” he said.


Daniel Flynn – Thankyou Group

Thankyou Group is a social enterprise that sells food and body care ranges with 100% of profits going towards projects combatting poverty. It was co-established in 2008 by then 19-year-old Daniel Flynn, who remains CEO today. Just four years before launching his big idea, Flynn was flipping burgers at McDonalds, which he says has, “Taught me loads about team dynamics and how to efficiently work as part of a team”.


Stuart Marburg – Call Dynamics

Australian entrepreneur Stuart Marburg is the mind behind Call Dynamics, which specialises in advertising analytics. Years before founding the company and becoming CEO, he was an 18-year-old working at the computer reseller IC Technologies, with the responsibility of installing their Online Information System. It wasn’t long before Marburg developed his own service provider, Netspace, and worked his way up from there to gain the prestigious position he holds today.


Cyndi O’Meara – Changing Habits

Cyndi O’Meara, founder and CEO of nutrition program Changing Habits, took on a waitressing job at a ski lodge after finishing school. Whilst living at the lodge and maintaining a balance of work and play, O’Meara gained valuable insight into nutrition and health from her then boss. This was the beginning of a sustained interest in the health system and an exploration into the ways she could instigate change.


Lauren Hall – iVvy

Instilled with an appreciation for the value of money from a young age, Lauren Hall, CEO of online events marketplace iVvy, began delivering newspapers at just nine years old. Eight years later, she was the youngest appointed stock admin controller for a South African retail chain. It was in this position that she learnt, “to never give up no matter how hard the role may be, everything in life takes passion… and the importance of not being afraid to put forward new ideas”.

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