Is Your Ultimate Goal CEO? Pathways to Get There


MBA Central ( has recently developed a fascinating infographic about how to become a CEO.

Many of my clients who are not yet in that category do aspire to get there. Thus, they are building the requisite skill set and exposure to the many functional areas involved in a successful business: Operations, marketing, strategy, finance, creating company culture, human resources, recruitment/talent development, regulatory compliance, sales, PR, and so on. According to the infographic, each of these comes under the umbrella of responsibility for a CEO.

How important is education level? Well many of the CEO’s of top companies do have Ivy League degrees, including Meg Whitman (HP), Jeffery Immelt (GE), Jamie Dimon (JPMorganChase), Roberto Goizueta (Coca-Cola)–65% of them hail from Harvard. And indeed, 97% of CEOs have attained their Bachelor Degree, 29% their MBA. Only 2.4% have no degree at all.

It can be done without that degree, though. For example, these dropouts seem to have done all right: Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle), and Richard Branson (Virgin).

What about age? The average starting age for a CEO in Fortune 500 companies is 52.

Executives and entry level employees alike can take heart in that most CEO’s started from humble beginnings like you, for example: Anne Mulcahy of Xerox (sales rep), Eric Schmidt of Google (Bell Labs Researcher), and Jack Welch of GE (engineer).

And what can one expect once they’ve grabbed the brass ring? That varies wildly, but in a big company the compensation is big also–well into 8 figures. Oracle’s CEO compensation (cash, stock, options included) tops out at $78.4 Million.

What are characteristics of successful CEO’s? These include Honor, Patience, Financial Savvy, Perseverance, Leadership, Realism, Perspective, Courage, Expertise, and Ability to Pitch and Close. Selection of future CEO’s will increasingly focus on qualities like Flexibility, Transparency, Collaboration, and Empowerment.

If you are looking to position yourself for a CEO role, you’ll need to make sure that your executive resume and LinkedIn profile emphasize the broad range of functional skills listed in this infographic. In addition, your executive resume and LinkedIn profile need to convey that you possess the soft skills mentioned above–not just by listing them, but by demonstrating them through your performance in roles to date.

To view these and additional insights on How to Become a CEO, you can access the infographic at:

How to Become a CEO