The ideal path to becoming CEO of a large company

executive search consultants

Are you interested in becoming CEO of a large company? Bernard Forgues, professor at EM Lyon, has just published a study that gives some ideas on the best way to achieve this.

Do you want to become the future CEO of Danone, Axa or Orange? If the journey to get where you want to go is going to be long and difficult, there is no guarantee that you will not succeed! A study conducted by Bernard Forgues, professor at EM Lyon, reveals the career strategy required to become CEO of a large company.

Bernard Forgues’ survey was conducted among the top 100 CEOs in Fortune magazine’s company ranking. In order to get a clear idea of the professional path to becoming CEO, the research team “traced the careers of each of these great leaders, from their beginnings to their accession to the position of CEO,” says a press release from EM Lyon. Hire Your Talent reveals some of the key points of this publication.

Stay in the same company

The main lesson of this study is that to become CEO of a company, it is better to follow “a traditional professional career path”. In other words, it is better to stay in the same company for a long time. According to this survey, 37% of the people on the list of the top 100 CEOs have been working in the same company since the beginning of their careers. Loyalty would therefore be rewarded. In fact, the study also states that “CEOs only have an average of 2.7 employers during this period”.

Another important element is that it takes on average almost 28 years to reach the highest position. A long period that allows future leaders to move up the ladder.

Do not change business sector

The study also reveals that it is not advisable to change sectors during your career if you want to become chief executive officer of a large company. Of the 100 executives surveyed, “62 worked in only one industry, with an average of only 1.6 sectors per CEO,” the study says.

“The typical career has changed enormously over the past 20 years,” explains Bernard Forgues in the press release published by EM Lyon. People have more jobs in their lifetime and are generally much more likely to change sectors and functions. However, if you want to enter the closed circle of the world’s top business leaders, it is in your best interest to be more conservative in your career choices. CEOs tend to have traditional careers and not to move too much,” he adds.

To be promoted regularly

According to the survey, regular career promotions are also an important factor. On average, the top 100 CEOs changed positions 9.3 times during their ascent, spending three years in each position between promotions.

“One might think that trying different things and having different experiences improves the chances of being employed and promoted. But for the highest positions, companies prefer logical and linear career paths, marked by constant progression,” concludes the author of the study.

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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