Are You a Lecturer? Improve your student engagement... Sign up your class
What is the best background to rise to an CEO/MD?
I assume that it is finance but would be good to understand more
3 Answers to this question...
People who get to the CEO position come from a variety of backgrounds. Many
argue that it's the personal characteristics and work ethic rather than any
specific background which helps people rise to the level of a CEO/MD.
You are right though. Most people who become CEOs have a background in
finance/accounting. You need to be good with numbers to run any sort of
business. I recently read this article
([http://goo.gl/ZN45X](http://goo.gl/ZN45X)) which states that 30% of Forbes
500 CEOs have started their careers in finance roles. A further 20% spent
their initial years in sales and marketing.
An another interesting aspect is the percentage of MBAs amongst the Forbes 500
CEOs. This article ([http://goo.gl/XCdF3](http://goo.gl/XCdF3)) states that
174 of the Forbes 500 CEOs have MBAs and many others among them would have
done some sort of executive programs at top business schools.
Based on this information, I think we can say that people with a finance
background and/or an MBA are the most likely to become CEOs
Anyone who starts his or her own company can become a Managing Director.
Within established companies the bottom line is your success breeds your
success. However, there are obviously certain achievements and steps you can
take to help you achieve this goal:
Be highly educated – many CEO/MD are highly educated. They usually have an MA,
PHD, MBA or chartered qualification behind them.
Get experience – get as much business experience as you can get from a young
age. During your schooling and university holidays get jobs within the
industry you think you might like to work. This might be the bottom of the
food chain type job or unpaid, but this real life experience will make you
highly attractive to employers along with your qualifications, allowing you to
get your first foot on the ladder early on to start your climb to the top.
Ideally aim for blue chip companies and recognised businesses within your
chosen industry. These names will vastly improve the look of your CV.
Network – Making as many contacts as you can and building relationships with
them is a great way to climb the ladder. The more contacts you make, the more
sources of opportunity you will have. Another benefit of building
relationships with your contacts is that if people know who you are and like
you, they are far more likely to give you a rise/employ you even if your
achievements are relatively average.
A few generally accepted sterotypes. Individuals become CEOs/MDs via:
- Deep industry and company expertise: Worked in a company for 40+ years and slowly worked their way up. Generally they are best positioned to lead the business as they know more than anyone else about the business
- Professional services experience: An often turbo charged route to CEO/MD role is via professional services. The benefit of a professional services role, like strategy consulting, is the role typically involves addressing a major strategic issue, is high profile, and high pressure - all good ingredients needed for an effective MD
- Smart / political savvy individual: Often getting to the top is a combination of smarts and the ability to navigate personalities, personal agendas and competing corporate agendas