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Old 01-29-2014, 12:10 AM
 
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I mean, it's a highly desired position. How did they beat the competition and climb to the top seat making 8 digits? And more importantly, how do they maintain their seats and compensation packages even when their companies make negative profits?
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:26 AM
 
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Essentially you follow one of three paths:

1. You start a company that becomes a fortune 500 company (Like Bezos for Amazon)
2. You start in a less desirable position and grow within the company (like Tim Cook did in Apple)
3. You have a leadership role at another fortune 500 and join another company as CEO (like Marissa Mayer of Yahoo)

Now for the statistics that are meaningful at increasing your chances of being CEO:

1. Bachelors degree from a decent university (Penn, Harvard, Columbia, etc. represent a large number of CEOs today)
2. Advanced degree from a top business school (Harvard, Booth, etc. represent a large number of CEOs today)
3. Strong financial background/acumen (this can be through studying finance or learning through leadership roles)
4. Become COO of the company (majority of CEOs get promoted from being COO)
5. Serve on the board of public companies

Other stats:

1. Average age of becoming CEO is about 50 years.
2. They have spent 10-15 years in a high caliber leadership role.

Key skills:

1. Leadership
2. Strategy/Vision
3. Charisma/Poise
4. Innovation/Foresight

Of course, these are general and it varies by industry and company.

Sources:

1. Where the Fortune 500 CEOs Went to School - US News and World Report

2: The Path To Becoming A Fortune 500 CEO - Forbes
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:37 AM
 
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I'm most interested in how they grow within the organization. Assuming they all started at entry level at some point, how did they learn the skills and know the people that helped propel their careers?
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmFest View Post
I'm most interested in how they grow within the organization. Assuming they all started at entry level at some point, how did they learn the skills and know the people that helped propel their careers?
You learn from your boss and by observing the industry.
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:40 AM
 
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I've interacted with a few individuals that fit into this category. In addition to what was mentioned above there are a couple other factors:

-Timing: If your career spanned a time period where the economy was expanding overall, this definitely helps. You can't be promoted to positions that aren't there. Quite frankly I think it will be more difficult for young people now than it was 30 years ago.

-Networking is key. Like was stated, the Ivy League credentials are somewhat of a fraternity. They do seem to stick together. I have also observed that Naval / Air Force academy is a strong networking tool as well.

-Social intelligence: This is more or less innate. You can develop these skills to a certain degree, but some people are just more cunning than others. People who are cut out for this role seem to be able to create perceptions of competence and knowledge around themselves, even if they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

-Chance: I simply can't downplay the role that chance plays in the grand scheme of things. If the majority of your skills set is in an industry that is contracting (like many are) and those skill sets are also non transferable to a another growth industry, it will prove very difficult... Also, sometimes simply being associated with a failed project can spell doom for a low/mid tier employee..

Good luck, and be careful what you wish for...
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmFest View Post
I'm most interested in how they grow within the organization. Assuming they all started at entry level at some point, how did they learn the skills and know the people that helped propel their careers?
To answer this specific question, usually people of this nature only surround themselves with people who may be highly competent in their specific discipline, but don't pose a threat to their ambitions. Observe their moves, but don't expect too much since these people don't care about anyone but themselves...
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:06 AM
 
Location: roaming about Allegheny City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmFest View Post
I mean, it's a highly desired position. How did they beat the competition and climb to the top seat making 8 digits? And more importantly, how do they maintain their seats and compensation packages even when their companies make negative profits?
Well, they obviously attained their lofty positions through different veins:

(1). Some of them got where they are through brilliance, hard graft, innovation, invention, etc. These people command great respect and truly deserve their high salaries and wealth.
(2). Some used their shrewd avarice, emotional/social intelligence, and manipulative abilities to climb the corrupt corporate ladder. These are the master manipulators, the creators of nothing, the morally bankrupt Wall St. types that we could do without.
(3). And some, of course, are at the helm because daddy was CEO. These people can be dumb as a brick, but why not continue the family tradition?

To answer your second question, these worthless, avaricious, mortally bankrupt CEO layabouts remain in their positions, receiving their unjust compensation, because others in the corporation are afraid to challenge them when they fail or do something skirting on being illegal (or outright illegal). Once they have obtained that kind of power, they command a great deal of respect, so people are afraid to challenge them when they fail. They're used to being peons and having to answer to the boss, not the other way around.

Last edited by The King of Um; 01-29-2014 at 09:17 AM..
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:22 AM
 
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People get there by various different means. There is no set steps to do it.

Jeff Bezo's had a great idea at the perfect time, and had the knowledge to capitalize on it brilliantly. Bernie Ebbers was a JV basketball coch that leveraged a motel clain (with partners) into a sliver of ma bell as it broke up...and kept doing the same thing till he ran out of leverage, and started defrauding people to operate till he was jailed. If Jeff or Bernie were 5 years before, or after, with the same ideas they could have had much different outcomes. If people who didn't know how to capitalize on the idea, or hire those who could, were in the same position...they might not have had the same success.

Many different abilities, presence, and even the luck of being in the right place at the right time helps...but none are exclusive.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles (Native)
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmFest View Post
I'm most interested in how they grow within the organization. Assuming they all started at entry level at some point, how did they learn the skills and know the people that helped propel their careers?


It takes a variety of skills.....not the smartest, or the brightest, or the most personable, or the most cut-throat, but a balance of all of those things.

Coming from a 'good' school helps--it gets you noticed, and allows you membership in the 'club'. This helps, doesn't work for everyone, but is a plus.

You pay attention. To everything. You learn skills, and convince people by your actions that you are capable when challenges arise, be they project, task or location in nature.

You schmooze. Not to the point of becoming a kiss-a$$, but enough so that your name and qualifications are always on someone's mind.

You keep moving. You don't get bogged down in one job or one division too long. You demonstrate all of the 'honeymoon' attributes, and you don't stay around long enough for a TSHTF moment.

You socialize...job, industry, community. You are everywhere.

And finally, it sometimes comes down to luck. Look at Jack Welch, Sandy Weill, Hank Greenburg or Ken Thompson. These guys were horrible managers and left behind incredible disasters, but they did all of the above...AND they rode the wave of leverage and free money. They built huge pyramids based on free money and enjoyed the accolades that go with that. Skill? Or just good timing? Maybe they were bright enough to seize the moment, and let their followers figure out how to deal with the mess. GE still has barely recovered, Wachovia got sold in desperation, AIG got bailed out, and Citibank got some of all of the above--mostly a bail out. The guys who ran these shops into the ground are lauded as being geniuses because they were lucky, and got out before TSHTF.

Most of all, it takes hard work,. Not necessarily ethical or 'dedicated' hard work, but hard work as in 'my goal is to be a wealthy CEO' and I will do what I have to do accomplish that goal.
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