The success factors of Britain's biggest bosses

Like the idea of one day becoming a CEO for one of the most successful companies in the UK?

Here's the ten things which many of the CEOs for the FTSE Top 100 firms have in common...

Robert Half UK has conducted a study of the leaders of FTSE Top 100 firms in order to determine the drivers behind their success. The ninth annual FTSE 100 CEO Tracker has identified ten key factors, which rain from training to experience of specific sectors, listed in full below:


1: A Background in Finance

55% of current FTSE 100 CEOs have backgrounds in finance, accounting or other financial services. Almost a quarter of CEOs (235%) are qualified Chartered Accountants, indicating it pays off to invest time in financial education.

To compare, other sectors which have generated a large number of FTSE 100 CEOs include: retail and hospitality (21%), engineering and natural resources (15%), marketing (15%), technology (14%.)

2: Specific Sector Experience

Two thirds of FTSE 100 bosses have moved from a senior role within the same industry; some of the longest-serving CEOs, in sectors such as mining and brewing, have made their entire career in one industry.

3: CEO Experience In Different Industries

However, leadership experience can be gained by moving between industries. A small number of FTSE 100 CEOs have got to the top by learning how to tackle the top job across multiple sectors.

4: University Degrees and Post-Graduate Qualification

The majority of bosses have at least one degree, and more than 25% have an MBA or a PhD. It is noteworthy that a number of FTSE 100 CEOs who are Oxbridge alumni has fallen slightly from 21% in 2012 to 18% in 2016.

5: Age

Experience and patience in needed to progress to the highest roles – the average age of a FTSE 100 CEO is 55. The youngest this year was 40, and the oldest was 71.

6: Citizenship

While the majority (60%) of the CEOs are British citizens, there is in fact 20 different nationalities – including South Africa, New Zealand and the Netherlands – represented in the FTSE 100 leaders.

7: Gender

There are still only six female CEOs in the FTSE 100. However, female leadership is steadily on the increase, with the appointment of Alison Brittain to Whitbread earlier in the year. This trend is set to continue with an increasing number of women becoming business leaders.

8: Time in the Role

The average length for a FTSE 100 boss to hold their position has remained constant, between five-six years, suggesting a regular churn rate.

9: A Readiness to Switch

30% of FTSE 100 CEOs are promoted from within the same company – but the majority move from another organisation. It does not necessarily pay to remain loyal to one employer as some companies value the experience gained from other firms or sectors in their new CEO.

10: Location

Unsurprisingly, six in ten FTSE 100 companies are based from London; so while their bosses may live and work across the world, a significant portion of their time will be spent in the capital.

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