Sugar graduated summa cum laude in engineering in 1968 from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also received master’s and doctorate degrees in the same field. He subsequently completed executive programs at Stanford University, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University.
Sugar held executive positions at Litton Industries and TRW Inc., where he served as the chief financial officer. In 2003, Sugar became chairman and chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman Corporation. He retired in January 2010 and was succeeded by Wesley G. Bush.
Sugar is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of both the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Royal Aeronautical Society. He is a director of Chevron Corporation, Amgen and Air Lease Corporation, and serves as a senior advisor to the private investment firm Ares Management. He is a trustee of the University of Southern California, where he also holds the Judge Widney Chair as Professor of Management and Technology. He is a member of the boards of UCLA Anderson School of Management, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and several other philanthropic organizations focused on children and education.
On November 17, 2010, Sugar was appointed to Apple’s board of directors, where he serves as the chair of the audit and finance committee. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "Ron is an engineer at heart, who then became a very successful business leader. We are very excited to welcome him to Apple’s Board. In addition to having been the CEO of a high-tech Fortune 100 company, Ron has a Ph.D. in engineering and has been involved in the development of some very sophisticated technology." Sugar said: "I have always had enormous admiration for the people of Apple. It is a special privilege to serve on the board of such an amazing company." In 2018, he was appointed chairman of the board of Uber.
- Ronald D. Sugar Joins Apple’s Board of Directors, Apple Inc. 2010-11-17.
- Uber Names Ex-Northrop CEO Ronald Sugar as Chairman After Yearlong Hunt, Fortune. 2018-08-01.