New Study On CEOs: Is Marketing, Finance, Operations, Or Engineering a Best Path To CEO?


What organic area seems to best ready people to rise to a F100 CEO position? This is a doubt we mostly hear from marketers, engineers, and others seeking to emanate a trail that leads to a C-suite. They wish to know if there is an early-career organic concentration that will make it easier to stand a ladder.

To find out, we looked into a backgrounds of the F100 company CEOs and identified several factors compared with their career paths: undergraduate schools, undergraduate degrees, connoisseur schools, connoisseur degrees, educational majors, organic emphasis, a series of years during their stream association (at that they are CEO), and a companies that furnish some-more CEOs (methodology below). In prior articles, we have explored the undergraduate schools and graduate schools most attended by F100 CEOs along with their chosen areas of study, the number of firms F100 CEOs have worked forthe early association choices, and a undergraduate degrees of F100 leaders.

In this article, we try a early organic career choice done by a F100 CEOs. Specifically, we identified a initial primary organic area a F100 CEOs followed out of propagandize to see where they started their careers.

Surprisingly, operations was a organic starting indicate for many of a F100 CEOs, with 25% commencement their careers in an operational role. Finance was a second many renouned choice (22% of F100 CEOs began their career in finance), engineering a third (17%), and sales/marketing a fourth (13%). Accounting placed fifth many mostly (11%), with law entrance in sixth (7%). Interestingly, government and consulting were last, any with only 3% of F100 CEOs commencement their careers there.

Of note, in many cases, a early-career duty selected by a F100 CEOs is also a widespread duty of a organisation that they helm. For example, a Goldman Sachs, Liberty Mutual Insurance Groups, and AIG CEOs all started in finance-related functions. All 3 of these firms work within a financial use space.

Lockheed Martin, Cisco Systems, 3M, Conoco Philips, and Honeywell are led by CEOs who started their careers in engineering. UPS, FedEx, and Comcast are led by operations-trained CEOs.

While not always a case, for some firms, there competence be a primary, executive duty from that CEOs emerge (for example, a CEOs of Ford and Valero Energy have marketing/sales backgrounds). To establish if this is a settlement or a one-time occurrence would need questioning CEO choices over time. While not a indicate of this study, it would behoove students and those creation early career decisions to demeanour during a duty from that a CEO emerges and see if there is a pattern. If we aspire to be a CEO, identifying a association that treats your organic area as bathing drift for destiny CEOs competence make a many sense.

For additional discernment on Fortune 100 CEO career paths, see a following: a undergraduate institutions they attended, a graduate schools they attended, a number of companies they have worked for, a early-career firms during that they worked, a undergraduate degrees they earned, and a early-career functions in that they chose to work.

Join a Discussion: @KimWhitler

Disclosure: we am an Assistant Professor during a University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Methodology: To brand CEO information, a series of information sources were used: 1) Bloomberg, 2) Company websites, 3) Company substitute statements, 4) press releases, 5) Wikipedia, among others. While many of a information was accessible, there were 10 occasions where a information was taken or conflicted opposite resources. In such cases, a CEO was released from a sum CEO count in a statistic distributed if unavailable/inconsistent. Additionally, some firms were acquired and a CEO transitioned to a appropriation firm. In such cases, a CEO’s reign during a stream organisation was distributed starting during a time of a merger/acquisition. The CEOs were identified in Sep 2018 and a investigate was conducted in winter 2018/2019. A special interjection to Wilkerson Anthony, an superb investigate partner with whom we worked from 2014-2019, who helped source and formula a information. Also, interjection to Tyla Gallegos who combined a information images.

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