From CIA to beer: Brendan Whitworth's path to CEO of Anheuser-Busch


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Years earlier than he grew to become CEO of one of the crucial well-known beer firms in the USA, Brendan Whitworth would spend time late into the night time learning for enterprise faculty whereas stationed in Baghdad, Iraq.

It was the one time he needed to put together for the Graduate Administration Admission Check (GMAT) in between his duties on the Central Intelligence Company (CIA).

After a yr of labor, Whitworth needed to sit for the check however had few choices within the Center East. 

So with little or no time on his palms, he flew straight to Washington, D.C, sat for the examination and submitted the outcomes from his cousin’s home 29 minutes earlier than the Harvard Enterprise Faculty software was due. 



Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth.  (Anheuser-Busch )

“I do not know if I put my finest foot ahead,” Whitworth laughed as he spoke with Fox Information Digital.  

On the time, Whitworth was devoted to serving the nation, first as a primary lieutenant in the USA Marine Corps after which as an operations officer for the CIA’s counterterrorism heart. 

4 years into his work on the company, his older sister Kelty pushed him to use to enterprise faculty. 

“Whereas she appreciated what I had been doing … she, as any protecting sibling can be, was continuously saying, ‘OK, you’ve got performed eight years now … What do you concentrate on prioritizing your self?'” he recalled, including that she had a “robust, well-grounded opinion” in his life. 

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Reluctantly, he agreed to use however with one stipulation: He would solely apply to the distinguished Boston-based college the place Kelty had attended undergraduate faculty.

“There are a bunch of nice enterprise faculties … however I at all times felt like she had one thing on me, too. So, I used to be like, ‘All proper, effective, I will go there’,” Whitworth mentioned. 

It was one thing he hadn’t beforehand thought-about. In 1994, Whitworth began his freshmen yr at Bucknell College with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps of turning into a physician. 

Nonetheless, halfway by his faculty profession, Whitworth, who at all times admired army and authorities service, discovered himself researching learn how to get into the Marines.

Anheuser-Busch ceo

Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth.  (Anheuser-Busch )

“I felt lucky to have been born in the USA,” he mentioned. “I felt like I wanted to pay that again like I had a little bit of indebtedness that I … wanted to pay.”

On high of that, his grandfather labored on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), serving below President Hoover, earlier than working the coaching in Quantico, Virginia.


“That is the place sort of the attachment to … serving the nation got here from,” Whitworth mentioned. 

After dropping his pursuit of a medical diploma, the concept of serving the nation had “change into far more of a actuality,” Whitworth mentioned. 

Earlier than his senior yr at Bucknell, he attended Officer Candidates Faculty, the place commencement candidates are commissioned as officers in the USA Marine Corps, “marking the ultimate transition from civilian to Marine officer,” based on the Marines. 

Brendan Whitworth, Anheuser-Busch CEO

Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth.  (Anheuser-Busch )

Throughout that point, candidates show “themselves succesful as leaders our nation can rely on,” based on the Marines. After graduating OCS and Bucknell, Whitworth spent three years within the Marines and one other 5 years on the company, in any other case referred to as the primary line of protection for the USA. 

In 2006, after getting accepted to Harvard, he left Baghdad and spent the following two years in Boston, immersed in enterprise faculty. 

Somewhat than entering into banking or administration consulting like a lot of his colleagues, Whitworth took a unique route. 

Whitworth recalled having a complete week of interviews lined up and canceling each single one. In flip, he landed a job at PepsiCo in its Frito-Lay unit.  

After just a few brief years, he was employed by Anheuser-Busch, an organization he says has been “an American icon for nearly 170 years.” 

Budweiser bottling facility St. Louis, Missouri

Signage is displayed as bottles of beer transfer alongside the manufacturing line on the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser bottling facility in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 28, 2015.  (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg by way of Getty Photographs / Getty Photographs)

Inside eight years, he quickly moved up the chain, beginning as vp of the Northeast Area in 2014 to sitting on the helm of the corporate by July 2021. 

His success was partly as a result of abilities he realized within the Marines when he was tasked with main a platoon of troops. 

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“They put you thru a course of to display screen you, to see if do you have got the capabilities to guide Marines,” he mentioned. “Then they offer you what they consider are the suitable management ideas … after which they offer you a platoon of Marines, and it’s important to go see if that every one works. ” 

He needed to discover a solution to impress folks from vastly totally different backgrounds and experiences. 

“That early expertise gave me an appreciation that I’ve continued to construct upon — what it means to attach with, promote to, market to somebody from Philadelphia or someone from San Antonio,” Whitworth mentioned.

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