Biographical Discussion - Early Life

  • Born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington
  • Wealthy family
  • Attended Lakeside Preparatory School
  • Interest in computers began at Lakeside
  • Began computer programming at age 13 (Stevenson, 2005)

Biographical Discussion - Education and Business

  • Attended Harvard University (1973)
  • Dropped out in 1974
  • Partnered with Paul Allen to form Microsoft Corp
  • Hired in 1981 to create software for IBM PC’s (Stevenson, 2005)
  • Became a billionaire in 1987, just before his 32nd birthday
  • In 1994 he married his wife Melinda and created the William H. Gates Foundation
  • In 2000, Gates and his wife combined three family foundations to create the charitable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations (Thibault, M., 2010)
  • In 2008, Gates stepped away from an active role in Microsoft
  • In 2013, the foundation became the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation, with assets valued at more than $34.6 billion (Stevenson, 2005)

Values-Based Leadership and Values-Based Leaders

  • Hold specific views regarding right and wrong
  • Beliefs regarding moral principles influence conduct in business environment
  • Tend to attract individuals with similar values as fellow soldiers in company
  • Gates’s policy at Microsoft (Walker and Moylan, 2014)

Concerns Regarding Gates’ Ethical Construct at Microsoft

  • Some question Gates’s status as ethical leader
  • Concern over anti-trust issues at Microsoft (Gingerich, 2010)
  • Ruthless competition against other companies (Theodhosi, 2000)
  • Notwithstanding, much can be learned from positive values

Changes in Bill Gates

  • Marriage to Roman Catholic wife affected Gates
  • Profound influence from mother and father (Luke 12:48, NIV)
  • Influenced more altruistic and philanthropic endeavors
  • Founding of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation circa. 1994
  • Donated $100 million and gradually increased involvement
  • Foundation focuses attention on sex-trafficking, clean water, and fight against disease
  • Left role as CEO of Microsoft in 2008 to preside over foundation (Gingerich, 2010)
  • Still involved in Microsoft, but primary focus continues to be at foundation

Learning from Gates’s Values-Based Model for Ethics

  • Sets an excellent example of how to invest in worthy causes
  • Demonstrates excellent stewardship of God-given talents and resources
  • Altruistic example of walking away from greater success
  • Impact on Microsoft employees

Biblical Integration

Proverbs 13:20 - “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm” (ESV).

What does the company you keep reflect about you and the direction you want to head in your life?

Philippians 1:27a “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” (ESV).

For believers, our ethical foundation should inform every area of our lives.


Gates’ career communicates how:

  1. A good middle ground can be achievable for an organization
  2. The values of top management can produce a trickle-down effect through an organization
  3. The value of choosing a more altruistic career path

Question and Answer

Is a profitable and ethical business achievable? If so, how?

What ethical values would you implement in an organization?

What defines a businessman or woman as a poor or excellent steward?


Gingerich, E. F. R. (2010). Values-based leaders and the common denominators of benevolent capitalists. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 8(1), 1-15. Retrieved from

Schlender, B. (2010). BILL GATES: LIFE AFTER MICROSOFT. (cover story). Fortune, 162(1), 94.

Stevenson, K. (2005). Bill Gates. doi:10.1049/iet-tv.41.16299

Thibault, M. (2010, January 19). The Next Bill Gates. Retrieved from

Theodhosi, A. S. (2000). May the worst man win. Strategy & Leadership, 28(3), 28-31. Retrieved from

Walker, L., & Moylan, W. A. (2014). Ethics in project management research on values-based leadership in project driven arenas. Organization, Technology & Management in Construction, 6(3) Retrieved from


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