Sunday, July 27, 2014

How to become a CEO

Dr. Severin Schwan

The average CEO takes about 20 years to become a CEO, and is around 47 years old at the time of starting the first CEO position. Be ready for your marathon. Chances of seeing yourself on the cover of Forbes after 5-10 years are really slim.

Large companies are driven by financial numbers. Develop a strong foundation in finance. Try to take active roles in finance, accounting, sales etc.

Be willing to rotate into broader operating roles, even if they are at different divisions and you are not an expert on those topics.

Stay out of your comfort zone and be flexible to move to another (developing) country/continent.

Marry to someone who will support you on this journey. Most people can't accept overseas expatriate roles just because their significant other doesn't want it.

While companies value executives who understand the company culture, they also recognize the importance of executives who have spent time at multiple companies. So there is no right or wrong when it comes to changing companies.

But still, it seems to me that those who have worked their way up from a low level within the organization may have an advantage, as they arguably know the company better than any outsider ever could.

Even if you are working with a small team, you have to be a nice leader among your colleagues by taking the calculated-risks and initiative. If someone has to be promoted from that group, those guys should be happy to promote you.

Develop language skills.

Develop social skills.

Executives typically look to join boards before becoming CEO because they view board experience as a form of professional development.

I might be biased, but Austrians somehow make good executives. I have came across plenty of Austrians during my research. So, it might be a good idea to become close to Austrians; or learn something from them. Again, this is just my humble observation; might totally be wrong.