Position: Founder, Taubman Centers
Market Cap: $3.3 billion
Alfred Taubman, the founder and former chief executive of Taubman Centers, began his career in retail at age 11 at a Sims department store, where he continued to work through high school. After Taubman graduated, he attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for less than a year, when he was called to military service during World War II. After his service was complete, Taubman returned to the University of Michigan to study art and architecture. Soon after, he proposed to his college sweetheart and transferred to night school.
Instead of finishing college and receiving a degree, Taubman saw opportunity in the real estate business. According to his book, “Threshold Resistance,” Taubman recognized the immense expansion of the middle class after the war and decided to cash in by starting Taubman Centers, a realty company.
Over a period of about 50 years, Taubman continued to expand his company and took the company public in 1992.
Today, the company’s CEO is Robert Taubman, Alfred oldest son and, yes, he did graduate college.