The 2016 Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker shows that finance remains the most common career background of today’s FTSE 100 CEOs (55%), compared with 21% in retail/hospitality, 15% in engineering/natural resources, 15% in marketing and 14% in technology. What’s more, almost one in four (23%) CEOs is a chartered accountant.
CEOs and managing directors come from a range of backgrounds, with each taking their own route. Most (66%) of today’s CEOs moved from a senior role in the same industry, which shows that it’s still important to build a deep understanding of a single sector when you’re aiming for a C-suite role.
What does this mean for you?
Well, as an accounting and finance professional, you’re one step ahead. As you plan your career, it’s worth thinking about where you want to end up, then working backwards from there to trace the steps you’ll need to take. As Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half, noted: “leaders who are able to traverse the commercial landscape while maintaining strong fiscal responsibility are in greatest demand. Our findings support this trend: experience within a single industry combined with a foundation in finance is what organisations seek from those taking the helm.”
How to become a CEO
There are certain must-haves all professionals should add to their career development plans. But if you aspire to lead a business, you’ll also need considerable intelligence, focus, determination and a flair for business. Typically, great CEOs are high achievers, have varied experience in business and a record of successes.
As for personal qualities, CEOs need to be clear communicators capable of both giving direction and accepting expert opinion. They must be energetic leaders, calm under pressure and ever objective, while having the ideas needed to give the business an edge over its competitors.
No matter where you are in your career, there’s never a time when improving your leadership skills will go to waste. Here are five leadership lessons from past and present FTSE 100 CEOs:
1.Have a strong work ethic – working your way up the career ladder requires focus, dedication and determination. Keep your ambitions high on your list to achieve your goals.
2.Be willing to learn – continuing to develop in your career requires developing new skills, taking on new responsibilities and, most importantly, being willing to learn from your mistakes.
3.Have a decisive nature – as you take on senior responsibilities, the business and your employees will expect you to make decisions that support business goals and help meet new objectives. Knowing what questions to ask and trusting your instincts are two important skills to learn.
4.Embrace social media – social media is fast becoming vital to communicating. Use it effectively and you have an opportunity to influence, network and raise your profile, which can enhance your career prospects.
5.Love what you do – if you’re passionate about what you’re trying to achieve and enjoy working for the company, that in itself will allow you to keep an open mind and positive attitude to your work. And with the right attitude, your professional success can only flourish.