What are the chances of becoming CEO?

I'm not stupid, I'm aware that becoming a CEO is very challenging, and the odds are it would never happen.

I'm aware it takes a lot of education, career climbing, obtaining contacts, luck and most importantly a lot of hard work.

That being said, what are the chances of actually becoming CEO if you have an undergraduate degree in Business from a top 50 university, an MBA from a prestigious American university (Harvard, Stanford, Yale, MIT, Chicago), and work experience with a professional company such as PWC, Ernst and Young, Deloitte, KPMG.

Please note I'm not saying I possess the above.


1 Answer

  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    CEO of what...? Becoming a CEO is easy. My wife did it in less than a day. She started her own company so she is the owner and CEO of a one person company. She did quite well in her first year as a consultant, but she had nearly 30 years of prior work experience to draw upon.

    Becoming CEO of Microsoft or General Motors? I would say the chances are almost zero.

    How about becoming the CEO of a family business? That often happens when your parent(s) decide to retire and pass on the company to you. Do any of your family members have their own business?

    Another realistic route is for you to get a good education, get a job in a small to medium sized company, work your way up the ladder and be in the right place (VP or COO position) when the CEO decides to move on or retire. In smaller companies, it is common to promote someone from within to a vacant CEO position. As companies get larger, they may hire an experienced CEO to fill a vacancy - like when Steve Jobs hired John Sculley away from Pepsico to run Apple in 1983.

    Using the scenario you describe above, it is impossible to calculate the chances in terms of probability. However, think of it this way. In any large organization, there is ONE CEO, possibly multiple Presidents, a number of Vice Presidents, Assistant Vice Presidents and other senior titles, a larger number of Directors, even more Managers, and lots of staff. For example, Lockheed Martin has 123,000 employees according to their website. I know several people who work there including a President and a Manager. I have been told they have around 20 layers of management between the CEO and the entry level. Imagine yourself getting hired by Lockheed as a junior engineer or business analyst with the goal of rising to the top. Statistically, your odds are roughly 0.0008% (i.e., you are one of 122,999 employees who may be interested in rising to the CEO position).

    What are the odds of you rising to the CEO position if you are the only son of a business owner? Probably a lot higher.

    Just my thoughts...

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