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FTSE 100 CEO Career Paths in 2018, what has changed

Our latest view on the question of what career paths CEOs take to run FTSE 100 companies. This is our 3rd look at this interesting question over the last 5 years.


Our interest is primarily to understand career paths and to glean insight on how people get to the top. Hence the interest in degrees, first jobs, where people started, and new this year, their previous job.

Over the year we have seen some changes and a lot that stays the same. Clearly a year is not a long time but over 20 CEOs are new which reflects a significant degree of movement.

What is new in the data this year

This year we have added some more data points we find interesting. The key ones are

  • What the CEOs' previous jobs were. The most common path is from running a region or division, followed by from the CFO chair.

  • If they were internal or external appointment. 38% external.

What stays the same

  • Time spent in one firm still pays. Contrary to the idea that moving around is good, the data shows that staying at a company for over 10 years is the norm, and half have spent over 20 years at one firm.

  • The average age of CEOs is still 55.

  • The number of women running FTSE 100 companies has not shifted significantly

  • Engineers and Accountants still rule the world

  • The importance of Oxbridge is not changing

  • Just over 10% of CEOs run the company they started work at, and this is consistent

What changes

  • The number of CEOs in their forties has jumped up by 50% to 18

  • Less Brits and more Americans this year

  • Different sectors have very different succession management approaches, internal versus external

Interesting nugget

Three of the CEOs worked for Travelex at some point in their career.

You can compare with the 2013 data here and the 2017 data here

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