We know that corporate Australia is overwhelmingly led by men, but new research has revealed insights into the education and experience common to the leaders of our biggest businesses.
Recruiter Robert Half analysed the professional background and experience of every current CEO of companies on the ASX 200.
Interestingly, the completion of postgraduate study was prevalent in only a slim majority (54 per cent) of CEOs, and just 22 per cent hold an MBA.
Undergraduate-level education was far more prominent, with 82 per cent of CEOs holding at least one undergraduate degree, and exactly half have a background in finance.
“It is not surprising to see that half of Australia’s ASX 200 CEOs have financial backgrounds. Companies are constantly under pressure to improve profit margins and deliver increased shareholder value,” said David Jones, senior managing director of Robert Half Asia Pacific.
“Business leaders with strong financial capabilities are highly valued as they can easily interpret the financial ramifications of business decisions, adding a practical, financial perspective to a strategic one.”
International work experience was found in more than half of CEOs, with 59 per cent having worked abroad – which Mr Jones said reflected the need for exposure to “today’s globalised world”.
“Obtaining experience of different working cultures is an important way for business leaders to differentiate themselves,” he said.
“As technology continues to develop and make it easier for more businesses to work across international boundaries, being able to demonstrate success in different countries and global assignments is a credential in business leaders that is highly sought-after.”
However, even more important than postgraduate studies or world experience appears to be an intimate knowledge of the workings of the company.
Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of CEOs were promoted to the top job internally, while business owners will be interested to hear that 5 per cent of our biggest companies still have the original founder at the top.
Sadly, there were no surprises when it came to the gender divide, which is a well-known concern for corporate Australia. According to Robert Half, there are currently just 12 female CEOs in the mix – meaning that 94 per cent of CEOs in ASX 200 are men.
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