What makes a leading CEO? Four tips to get to the top

- Leadership - Apr 16, 2018

Research from leading recruitment consultants Aaron Wallis has highlighted the most conventional path for aspiring CEOs to reach the top.

The study looked in-depth at the 100 most high-profile CEOs around the world, investigating their career trajectories, choices and circumstances that led to them taking on the top job.

"In 2018 we are seeing that it is near impossible to lead a big business without being a graduate and that earning an MBA can be a real advantage to progressing your career," said Rob Scott, Managing Director at Aaron Wallis. "Starting out in an operations or finance related field can give you the mindset and strategic thinking which is necessary to make it to the top."

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These were the four primary conclusions from Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment's research:

Internal promotion
The average 'top CEO' has worked at their respective company for 25 years. Out of the CEOs reviewed, only 25% had worked at their business for less than 15 years and the majority of CEOs in the study have worked at their company between 20 and 40 years.

Wait it out
The majority of 'top CEOs' are at the end of their career - the average CEO in the study is 59 years old, with 42/100 of the CEOs reviewed being between 56 and 60 years old. Only 4 of the 'top 100 CEOs in the world' are below the age of 50. 

Have the right background
CEOs tend to have a career background in finance or operations roles - grouping the career backgrounds of the CEOs reviewed into concise categories, 54% had a background in operations or finance.
Education, education, education
You need to be a graduate to become CEO of a multi-national business and an MBA definitely helps - 98% of the top 100 CEOs are graduates with 36% of these CEOs studying a business related degree and 23% completing an engineering course. 25% of the 98 CEOs with degrees have also completed a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

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