Newsletter Archive - Dollars & Sense
The Route to the Top Job
05/31/2004 - Spencer Stuart is not a person but it is one of the leading senior level executive search firms. The company also provides an integrated suite of leadership services including merger and acquisition services, recruitment advertising and a full service Internet-enabled recruitment business.
In its annual Route to the Top survey of Fortune 700 CEOs, you can see a snapshot of today's CEOs and the major trends emerging. It also reveals interesting differences between CEOs in various business sectors. Readers should note that while no media or Yellow Page advertising sectors are included in the study, it does provide you with a general insight into what it takes to get to the top job. Among the findings:
Work Career: International experience is fast becoming a prerequisite for today's executives aiming for the top echelon. More than a third of today's CEOs have international experience. A pattern is also emerging as to which countries and regions potential CEOs are eager to work in - China, Europe and Japan top the list.
Functional experience: International experience, however, is not the only attraction in a potential CEO. Exposure to a variety of functional roles is becoming more important, with the result that today's CEOs come from increasingly multi-functional backgrounds. The number reaching the top having pursued a career in only one functional area has dropped to 18% (20% in 2003), a trend which takes cognizance of the increasingly complex role of the CEO.
Education: The number of CEOs with Ivy League degrees continues to fall, while the percentage of those holding MBAs is rising. The survey revealed a surprising trend - the average age of Fortune CEOs in 2004 was the highest since 1998, reflecting caution among companies and a preference for experience over youth. This trend also highlights a worrying lack of succession planning and a widening gap between the top echelon and the next management level, as companies choose to recall retired CEOs rather than risk promoting younger executives.