Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The view from the top

Ever wondered who runs the top US companies? Forbes published a list in 2008 of the top 500 Chief Executive Officers in America, ranked by their remuneration, and it makes instructive reading.

I decided to take a closer look at the top 100 amongst this elite bunch and this is what I found:
  • American corporations are not run by college graduates. On average they are 58 years of age; the most junior is 43 years old and the most senior is 80 years young.
  • They have worked at their companies for an average of 22 years and almost a third has worked for their companies for 30 years or more.
  • They have been in post for an average of 11 years.
  • They get paid an average of $40m per annum. Trust me; you don’t want to know how much Larry Ellison gets paid. Even the lowest annual remuneration of almost $18m is eye-watering.
They are, of course, running some of the largest and most successful companies in America. So what are the qualifications for a successful CEO? Well it seems that staying on at school helps: two third of these CEOs has a post-graduate qualification:
  • 45% of America’s top CEOs has an MBA, with Harvard the business school of choice
  • 5% have a PhD
  • 14% have another post-graduate qualification.

One third, of course, has no post-grad qualification at all. And some don’t have a first degree, the most famous of whom is Larry Ellison who dropped out of college to start Oracle.

Only 12% of these CEOs founded their companies, the rest have either risen through the ranks or been drafted in to run the company. 75% have been with their companies for 15 years or longer.

So it seems that if you want to run a large corporation, sticking to knitting definitely helps. As does concentrating in strategy class.

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