Title: Education versus experience – which one is more valuable to becoming CEO

By | March 29, 2018

becoming CEO
For those aspiring to one day be a CEO, they may not be surprised to learn formal educational qualifications play a significant role in accelerating the journey to the top job. Through extensive research, specialised recruitment company Robert Half has identified key trends and facts about the CEOs of the ASX 200 in the inaugural Robert Half CEO Tracker.

Most CEOs have a strong educational background, with 82% holding an undergraduate degree and more than half (54%) a postgraduate qualification with 22% of CEOs having completed an MBA. However, academic qualifications doesn’t always guarantee a smooth pathway to success. While there’s no set formula to get the top job, professionals who showcase real-world experience alongside academic credentials are best placed for career success.

A Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Applied Finance were in the top five most popular undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications held by CEOs respectively. What’s more, half (50%) of Australia’s current ASX 200-listed CEOs have held prior roles in finance, financial services, or accounting.

Through analysis of the leaders of the ASX 200-listed companies, CEOs with a diploma were able to make CEO within their current company on average 3.1 years faster than those who do not have a diploma1.

Today’s business leaders must also possess a desire for continuous learning in order to be successful. However, apart from educational commonalities amongst business leaders, the research also revealed most CEOs display demonstrably high levels of financial and commercial acumen. Indeed, half (50%) of Australia’s current ASX 200-listed CEOs have held prior roles in finance, financial services, and/or accounting.

While having a strong educational background is surely beneficial to obtaining the CEO position, it’s equally important to gather as much experience in the business world as possible. This means proving the ability to multitask, thrive under pressure, motivate workforces, and showcasing how to impact the business’ bottom line.

Aside from core skills and experiences, CEO-ship is a position that demands strength of character as well as solid personal qualities to drive sustainable business growth. While confidence and strong communication skills serve to motivate and inspire the wider workforce, an aptitude for continued learning, developing fresh ideas, and exploring new opportunities ensure the most tenacious CEOs maximise revenues for the long-term.

Robert Half Executive Search specialises in the search for and placement of executive leadership talent across a broad spectrum of function areas and industry sectors. 

Notes: 1. Not taken into account the founders of the company and the CEOs who were hired externally.

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