Home Business NewsBusiness The education and career steps of the world’s best CEOs

The education and career steps of the world’s best CEOs

27th Feb 18 3:41 pm

What type of person is more likely to make it to the top of a multinational business?

New research from Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment suggests that people who people who have a career background in operations or finance are the most likely leaders.

A study into the most influential 100 CEOs in the world has investigated whether there is any trend between your first career steps and how far you progress. The research suggests that it is near impossible to make it to the top of one of the largest businesses without a degree, 98 per cent of the top 100 CEOs are graduates. Of the 98 graduates, the most popular degree type was business (36%) followed by engineering, accounting for 23 per cent of the graduate CEOs.

The breakdown of the top 5 degree types for CEO graduates can be seen below:

Degree Type Count of CEOs
Business 33
Engineering 21
Economics 10
Accounting & Finance 9
Computer Science 4

The research also looks into the age and gender of the largest companies’ CEOs. 96 per cent of these CEOs are male, with only 4 of the largest businesses in the World having a female CEO.

The average ‘Top CEO’ age is 59, with by far the most prominent age group being between 56-60, accounting for 42 per cent of the CEOs reviewed. The top 5 age groups can be seen below, out of 96 CEOs with publicly available information of their age:

Age Range Count of CEOs
56-60 40
61-65 23
51-55 15
66-70 8
41-45 3

Finally, the study reviews the career backgrounds of the most powerful CEOs, grouping their career backgrounds into concise categories. 54 per cent of the ‘Top CEOs’ have a career background in either finance or operations.

The top 5 career backgrounds can be seen below:

Professional Background Proportion of CEOs
Operations 28%
Finance 26%
R & D 14%
Data Analysis 11%
Sales 8%

Rob Scott, Managing Director at Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment said:
“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. 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.

It’s also unsurprising how many CEOs in our study have worked in a sales role at some point in their career, teaching you the communication skills to manage staff and negotiate large business deals.”

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