Robert Half’s CEO Tracker research reveals the characteristics of the typical chief executive of an ASX 200-listed company.
It finds 82 per cent hold an undergraduate degree and 54 per cent hold a postgraduate degree, such as an MBA (Master of Business Administration).
Half have a background in finance and 59 per cent have worked internationally – most commonly in the Asia Pacific, Europe or North America.
The research also shows most (62 per cent) chief executives have been promoted internally into the role, showing dedication to a company may pay off.
One in three chief executives are still hired externally.
On average, an internally-promoted chief executive spends eight years at the company before reaching the top job.
SO SHOULD I JUST GIVE UP NOW?
Robert Half Asia Pacific senior managing director David Jones says although these characteristics are typical, workers who do not tick all of the boxes are not out of the running.
“Our CEO Tracker is specific to the ASX 200 and the backgrounds for larger companies could be very different to small to mid-size companies,” he says.
“There, the CEO might be more entrepreneurial and backgrounds could be more diverse.”
WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT, EXPERIENCE OR COMMITMENT?
Demographer Bernard Salt says workers with their eye on a “plum role” should typically spend their 20s trying new things and gaining a range of skills but then settle into an organisation in their 30s to be ready to make their move when they are about 40.
“The criticism of Gen Y is that they are flighty but maybe that is the skill set they need (in their 20s),” he says.
“There comes a point, though, where you need to stick something out for four or five or six years.”
By mid-thirties, Salt says a worker should have long-term goals in mind.
“There comes a point where you need to say ‘I’m going to work this through’,” he says.
“There are times in corporate life where you just have to wait your turn, although that’s not often what everyone wants to hear.
“A 35-year-old that has never spent more than 18 months in a job won’t ever be appointed to CEO.”
HOW SHOULD I SPEND MY 30s?
Professor Paul Vorbach, honorary professor at University of Technology Sydney and managing director of AcademyGlobal, presents modules in the Certified Turnaround Analyst course and says workers in their 30s should continue to expand their skills and experience.
“Ideally, secure a mentor and seek to work with a collaborative team made up of capable and interesting colleagues,” he says.
Salt recommends workers use this time in their working life to position themselves for the opportunities they will be offered between age 38 and 42.
“Top business people often are put into the CFO (chief financial officer) role between 37 and 38, then five or six years later they are positioned for CEO,” he says.
Once in the role, chief executives can then use this experience to move into other similar positions.
One in four chief executives in ASX 200-listed companies held the chief executive role elsewhere before moving into their current company.
ONE WORKER WHOSE CAREER IS ON TRACK …
He spent his 20s studying finance and accounting at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and trying a range of roles to determine the niche that suited him best.
“I worked in a stockbroking firm, a listed toll road infrastructure fund, an insolvency firm, a boutique corporate finance firm and a global investment bank,” he says.
“Since joining Helmsman, I completed the Certified Turnaround Analyst program through the Turnaround Management Association and UTS to further my knowledge of turnarounds after determining this was going to be my long-term career.”