The Definitive Guide to Business

Apple CEO Tim Cook reflects on the most important classes he took in school

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Michel Porro | Getty Images

There's no guaranteeing that following the curriculum of the CEO of Apple will make you the next CEO of Apple, but it also couldn't hurt.

For Tim Cook, the most important classes he took in school included wildly different subject matters.

Early on, math was the most important piece of his education, Cook said in an appearance at the Utah Tech Tour on Friday. Utah's Senator Orrin Hatch moderated a conversation with Cook, which included questions from the audience.

Cook attended college at Auburn University, located in Auburn, Alabama, and studied math and engineering to pursue his goal of becoming an engineer.

But after years of these technical classes, Cook decided that engineering courses weren't enough.

"There were so many things that should be considered in most complex problems that you needed the view of strategy and of society and what society's main issues were so that the engineering would be applied to things that it should be applied to," said Cook.

Cook applied to Duke University for business school. While there he took an ethics class that he says profoundly impacted him.

As he embarked on his career, and in particular as he began work at Apple in the late 1990s, Cook realized that the most sophisticated developments have equal parts technical and human elements.

"For Apple, we believe strongly that the most important things in life stand at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts," Cook said. "It's the intersection of those things that you can do really profound things for people that really enriches their lives. And so I think, for me at least, it was important to have a broad view of both."

Since finishing his formal schooling, Cook said he continues educating himself and particularly values learning about art and music.